Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy (Book 3)
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but the book jacket for Margaret Attwood’s MaddAddam is my favourite of the year. As soon as I saw it, I couldn’t wait to start reading. The fact that I am a big Margaret Attwood fan, might have had something to do with this and that I enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy (Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood).
MaddAddam is the story of some of the last remaining humans and the Crakers, scientifically spliced creatures who look like people but with a twist (including eyes that are luminous). They do not eat meat, do not know hate, or fear. Named after their creator Crake, he made them to inherit the earth after he destroyed mankind through a virus and what became known as the Waterless Flood. Whether I can feel too sorry for most of mankind I’m not sure. In Attwood’s world most are greedy and corrupt or too broken to care; they are happy to feast on genetically modified food and bleed the world dry of its resources rather than try and change. Society is run by large corporations who use science not to the betterment of people but to their cost.
“The people in the chaos cannot learn. They cannot understand what they are doing to the sea and the sky and the plants and the animals. They cannot understand that they are killing them, and that they will end by killing themselves. And there are so many of them, and each one of them is doing part of the killing, whether they know it or not. And when”
Some did try to change things, the Gods Gardeners were one group, and their remaining members are some of the central characters in the novel – Toby, Zeb, Ren, and Amanda. Then there is Jimmy, former best friend of Crake and unlikely prophet to the Crakers (as long as he wears a baseball hat and sunglasses with one lens). All of them have survived through a combination of luck, skill and perseverance and we are told their stories in the first two novels (other than Zebs, which is told here). Now, they are living in a compound, along with the Crakers, at risk from paintballers and pigoons and trying to survive.
The future it presents is scary, one I don’t particularly want to see but then think might be possible when I read news stories about the government contracting out all its work and countries modifying their food in order to feed their populations. And that’s even before you add in global warming. One of the things I like about Margaret Attwood is I always end up thinking about what I’m reading and MaddAddam, along with the other books in the trilogy, made me realise how little I know about environmental issues and how potentially dangerous that is. I’m a bit like the general human race before the flood, blindly walking into a future where the planet can’t sustain us.
The other things I love are the complexity – her books don’t tell simple stories in a simple way – and the language, the way she presents people and ideas (“Perfection exacts a price, but it’s the imperfect who pay it”) at the same time as sometimes just stating the obvious and it makes me laugh (“The best way of being kind to bears is not to be very close to them.” ). I also like that she is a brave storyteller, she really seems to tell the story she wants, the way she wants to. There is an attitude in her novels that I love and there isn’t always a happy ending.
Given all that, and my comments at the beginning of the post, it’s probably obvious to say I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it, but possibly with the caveat that you read the other books first (there is a summary at the start but I still found myself stopping at times to try to figure out who someone was or when something had happened.)
Note: I actually wrote this review for my previous blog but decided to re-post it here after my current read, J. By Howard Jacobson, also set in a future I wouldn’t want to inhabit, brought it to mind