Surprisingly, I haven’t read a single Margaret Atwood book in the entire three years we’ve had our blog. She is a long-time favorite of mine, ever since I read The Handmaid’s Tale in the mid-nineties. And by rights I should have read MaddAddam, the final book in her dystopian trilogy which started with Oryx and Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood. The first book was published in 2003, which was actually kind of a long time ago even though it doesn’t seem like it. I remember that I thought Oryx and Crake was pretty weird, but liked The Year of the Flood much better. And I remember that the books take place in the same time period but the same story is told from different points of view. Oryx and Crake’s point of view characters were possibly not one hundred percent mentally stable, which is why it seemed so weird to me at the time. The novels take place in some non-specific fairly recent future and there’s been some sort of plague that has wiped out the bulk of humanity. In this future time there are hybrid animals like mockingjays and trackerjackers—wait, wrong dystopian trilogy. The hybrid animals in this trilogy are things like liobams and bobkittens and wolvogs. There are also pigoons, pigs who were used to grow human organ transplant tissue, including human brain tissue, and as such are pretty smart and are sort of stalking the survivors of the plague. There are also genetically modified humans created by the titular Crake, who was a genetic engineer. These modified people are called “Crakers,” and they can live on leaves, and their genitalia turn blue when they are ready to mate. They are completely peaceful, innocent people, and are kind of annoying to the people who have to “take care” of them.
I’m only about seventy five pages in, and I’m still trying to find my footing in this world I have barely thought about in the five years it’s been since I read The Year of the Flood. I’m grateful that Atwood put a brief summary of the two previous books at the start of MaddAddam, because I really needed it. I know that she left out probably more than half of the important details that I’ll need to make sense of this novel and how it relates to its two predecessors, but it was better than nothing.
So far, I’m enjoying this book. The trilogy up to this point has not been my favorite of Atwood’s work; I prefer her historical fiction (i.e. The Blind Assassin) to her future dystopian stuff, which is funny because I do tend to enjoy dystopian fiction in general, but I think Atwood does other genres a bit better. I’m hoping that this book ties everything together with the trilogy and makes the weirdness of Oryx and Crake worthwhile.
That’s all I’ve got to say tonight. I suspect I’m going to have to get out the first two books in the trilogy to put things together, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I probably will have by the next time you hear from me, though.