Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):  A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack. 

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.

And here's what I thought:   I have been eagerly waiting for this book, which is the third in a trilogy.   I had just re-read Oryx and Crake and After the Flood last December, so they were really fresh in my mind.

One of the things I enjoy the most about Atwood's books is that while they are entertaining, they make me think.    This trilogy brings up a lot of issues, like bioengineering gone wrong, and what it would mean to try to survive in a world where almost all of the humans have died.  Heavy stuff --- but somehow, it doesn't make for a depressing read.  Instead, I find myself wondering about what it would be like to have things like rabbits that glow in the dark, or pigoons.  And let me just say ... the whole Chickie Nobs Bucket o'Nubbins was something that stuck in my head after I read the first book, Oryx and Crake.   

What I think is immensely cool is that Atwood uses real things, like the properties of real plants, in the story.   She says, in the Acknowledgments section, "Although MaddAddam is a work of fiction, it does not include any technologies or biobeings that do not already exist, are not under construction, or are not possible in theory."    It's a bit sobering to think that some of these things that exist in the story, could potentially exist in a world that wanted them.

While the settings are vivid, it's the characters and the wonderful storytelling that makes it all come together for me.  Not all of the characters in this book are necessarily wonderful people.  However, they are compelling; when you are learning about their story, you are curious, and want to know more (well, at least I did).   And the humans are made even more human by the comparison to the Crakers, the engineered people created before the huge disaster.   It's a clever way to show characteristics of the different groups.

I did like how Atwood very nicely gave a recap of the stories from the first two books, at the beginning of this one.  Having it all there, before you start the story, is helpful --and I found it really got me in the mood of the story.

The one drawback I found in the story is that now, after waiting for this book, I have gulped it down .... which means I will need to wait to see what the author writes next.   sigh.

First lines:  In the beginning, you lived inside the Egg.  That is where Crake made you.  Yes, good, kind Crake.  Please stop singing or I can't go on with the story.


Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Once I realized it was the last book in a trilogy, I just scanned the rest of the review. I'm going to check my library for this series right away.

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