Book Review: The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood

Apologies, everyone! I thought I had done a blog already on Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. If I have, then Google is going to kick my ass (uh oh, the digital marketing side is coming out. Quick, quick – get it back in the box!) but I really can’t find it so here it is. And later this month, you can look forward to my thoughts on the final book of this trilogy, Maddaddam.

The Year of the Flood is the sequel to Oryx and Crake, a book I adore that seems to be more speculative fiction than science fiction. It’s a genre that I can really get behind as it makes you think, it takes issues or technology we have – or are just developing – and wonders where it might go. Sure, there’s an aspect of that in most science fiction but it becomes a staple of this genre, or sub-genre depending on how you view. Fantastic stuff.

If you want to catch up on my thoughts on Oryx and Crake, please do so!

Two – yes, two – narrators

While Oryx and Crake focused on Jimmy and his story, both past and present, The Year of the Flood introduces us to two protagonists. These are Toby and Ren (who you should remember was a part of Jimmy’s life in the past) and the story is split between them and their own journeys.

While that’s all well and good, Atwood doesn’t give up on the history of her main characters. So, not only do we have the story from Toby and Ren to contend with but also parts of their past. This can actually make a fragmented story even harder to follow and I’d advise that you don’t try and rush this book or you’ll get lost in what’s going on very quickly. Their stories are also connected – they aren’t just random choices.

What’s important to remember, even more so than that, is that this book seems more like world building. It takes the stage and setting from Oryx and Crake and builds on it in every way. Some events are told to us again, from a different perspective and this is fascinating. Despite that, it’s not boring. It does lull you into a false sense of security and when you least expect it, the big things happen!

This one runs parallel!

Something else to keep an eye on with The Year of the Flood is that this is not a sequel. Well, it is. It’s the sequel to Oryx and Crake, as I’ve said but more importantly, it’s not a sequel in terms of the story and timeline. This book is set at roughly the same time as its predecessor so even if this is the first one you read it won’t make a massive difference.

There will be a difference in how events are portrayed, and different terms used like the waterless flood, which has a different name from Jimmy’s story. You’ll encounter these variances throughout the book if you’ve read them in order or you’ll come across them with Jimmy. They amount to the same thing.

In the end, both books are building to something else. What that is, I won’t say!

This is a fantastic book and it carries on with the high standards set in Oryx and Crake. If you’ve just read the first book, you’ll have no trouble keeping up with the switching narratives and timeframes but if it’s been a while, it may take a little time to get back into the swing. I’d recommend catching up with Oryx and Crake first but it’s not essential, just remember this story runs at the same time as that book.

Keep an eye on this space for my review on Maddaddam in a couple of weeks!