Monday, September 7, 2009

A View of the Dystopic Future--Margaret Atwood's "The Year of the Flood"

So I was listening to the radio in the car yesterday, and there was a piece on about how this fall is the season where publishers are pulling out all the stops. There was speculation that its because the new Dan Brown book is expected to pull readers into bookstores, so publishers are rushing books by other big authors to market so they will also be bestsellers.

It was like it all clicked in place for me. I guess I have read books by a lot of big authors so far this fall. And overall, it's been a mixed bag. Some are good, some not so much. It will be interesting to see how they all do in stores.

But enough editorializing and on to today's book. This is one from one of those "big authors" mentioned in the story--Margaret Atwood--and she takes us to one of her familiar future dystopias for her new novel "The Year of the Flood."

Margaret Atwood's new novel "The Year of the Flood" returns her readers to the future dystopian world she created in 2003's "Oryx and Crake". A super virus created by human scientists as a pleasure drug has quickly killed almost all of the human race. A few survivors remain, but they must fight against each other and the animal super splices created by humans before the virus, to survive. This book focuses on two women--Toby and Ren--both former members of the God's Gardners cult who each believe they are the only person left on the planet. As Toby and Ren fully discover the horrors of their new world they realize what a struggle it will take to survive.

This novel is a classic Atwood dystopian nightmare, where some of the scariest aspects of modern society of gotten loose to disasterous effect. Similar to in Oryx and Crake, what is loose here is genetic engineering and corporate greed, which together have left human society vulenrable to a super virus. If you have liked Atwoods previous works along this line (Oryx and Crake, the Handmaid's Tale) then you will enjoy this novel. If not, then this is probably something you should skip.

Personally I find Atwood's novels to be a terrifying vision of what a future American society could be, and a wake up call regarding current societal excess. I only wish that this novel had a more concrete ending, it felt like it should have had a to be continued page. But overall, this was well worth the read.

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