Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Stupid mistakes with smart books
Reading a post-apocalyptic novel during the 2016 presidential election was probably not the greatest plan I've ever had. It stalled my reading in a pretty major way because it's hard to use a nightmarish corporatocracy as a means of escapism when you're attempting to escape a nightmarish corporatocracy.
It also might have been useful to know that The Year of the Flood is the second book of a trilogy before I started reading it, but I have a history of making that kind of mistake and try not to let it bother me.
What IS bothering me is that this is only the second novel I've read by Margaret Atwood. That is bad and wrong and something I will have to fix because, GOD DAMN, this woman can write.
The Year of the Flood is about a bunch of misfits who create an eco-based religion surviving the months and years before and after a bioengineered virus destroys most of the human race. It's scary and heady and is told through the eyes of incredibly well-constructed characters who are deeply satisfying in their richness and perspective.
The craft of this novel kept knocking my feet out from under me. Atwood had to sculpt a religion and its scriptures from scratch to match the world around it. I know it sounds easy when both things go together but how well it's done makes it very clear that there was a lot of work and effort put into the creation of the Gardeners and their hymnal and that work pays off. It's all tremendously believable and is far more enticing than a fictional cult should be.
I really, really want to read the other two books in the MaddAddam Trilogy, so I'm going to cut myself off before I start speculating about the world of the novel. I haven't read it yet and I don't want to spoil it for myself.
Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Anchor Books. New York: New York. 2009.