Thoughts on The Year of the Flood

Tuesday January 18, 2011

The Year of the Flood
Margaret Atwood

I read this sequel to Oryx and Crake because, according to the wiki, it was supposed to tell me more about Oryx, the mysterious female lead, and also what happened after the cliffhanger ending.

In the first, I was disappointed, because there's hardly any mention of Oryx, and her origin and motivations are pretty much as opaque as before.

In the second, the cliffhanger was "resolved" and then the book ended just seconds later, with another, weirder cliffhanger.  Whoo hoo.

Continuing to compare everything I read to Vonnegut's stuff, if Oryx and Crake was like Galapagos, The Year of the Flood is like Cat's Cradle.  It focuses on a quasi-religious group called The God's Gardeners.  They talk about god a lot but don't necessarily all really believe in it.  The book is fairly ambiguous about whether the religion is really helpful to its members.

In some way I guess my gripe with the book is that it's too realistic, where I would rather find some moral or something.  Everything is just so pointless, all through the book.  It's like real life, I guess, but it isn't satisfying.

Of course, there are ridiculous coincidences of meeting and so on, but whatever.

The writing is technically a little disappointing.  In the first chapter or so I felt let down a little by the writing.  It could be that it's supposed to be, in places, the writing/speeches/songs of The God's Gardeners, who are only human, after all, and a little crazy.  So if the lyrics of the song are bad, you could just say hey, it's because the God's Gardeners are bad song-writers.

The most fun thing about the book, actually, is that somebody took the lyrics from the song and made them into full-fledged songs.  They're much more believable being sung.  I bought them all online and enjoy them in a weird way.  I usually can't stand religious music because it makes me sick to think that people are walking around believing in the tripe.  But The Hymns of the God's Gardeners are made up and slightly silly in places, so I can listen to them in a much more detached, fake-ethnographic sense, I guess.  Fun.

I still think it's pretty dumb having the whole book be about how awful it is what people do to the earth, and then in the end it's just one crazy guy who deliberately kills everybody.  I guess I could interpret away my objection.  Whatever.

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