Margaret Atwood has a vivid imagination. She has once again envisioned a bleak and desolate future. Greedy corporations have reaped enormous profit and power. Gene splicing has created odd and dangerous life forms. The environment has been ruined and violence lurks around every street corner.
The Year of the Flood is a companion piece to Atwood’s 2003 novel Oryx and Crake. It is not a sequel, but rather a re-telling from a different point of view. This book is centered on Adam One and his religious sect God’s Gardeners. The gardeners revere all life forms as well as the Earth itself. Adam One predicts an upcoming “waterless flood”, in which most life on Earth will be destroyed. The Gardeners prepare for this eventuality and do all they can to live an environmentally responsible life.
The “flood” takes the form of a bio-engineered plague which wipes out most of humanity, but spares animal and plant life. God’s Gardeners are uniquely suited to survive the plague, and to navigate this new world. The Year of the Flood is told from the point of view of two women who have survived the plague and are struggling to survive.
This novel presents a frightening vision of the future. It is very well-written and worthwhile reading. Once again, Margaret Atwood proves to be a gifted writer. In addition to envisioning a world, Atwood has created the religion of God’s Gardeners. Many of the chapters end with hymns from the God’s Gardeners Oral Book of Psalms. These have even been recorded! So, if you’re not disturbed by the prospect of a dismal future where humankind is destroyed by a terrible plague, then go read this novel.
Published in hard cover-Nan A. Talese-2009
Softcover edition-Virago Press (available August 2010)