Oh, how I loved MaddAddam, the conclusion to Margaret Atwood’s series of books that began with Oryx and Crake. It had been awhile since I read the other two and I was a little worried my memory would be fuzzy. It was fuzzy on the details, which is a shame because the details are so very good. But for the big picture, I did okay especially since there is a lovely synopsis of the first two books helpfully provided at the start of MaddAddam
If you have read the first two books you will know that they both end at the same place. The story in Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood take place during the same time period but are just told from two different points of view, the insider view of Jimmy and the outsider view of Toby and God’s Gardeners. MaddAddam starts right where the first two end. Our narrator, once again is Toby, a member of the God’s Gardener group, late thirties to early forties, and one resilient woman. I love Toby. I often like characters in books, though it is never a requirement, however, I rarely love them or identify with them. But Toby, sometimes I thought, if things were different, I could totally be her. I’d want to be her. Or her best friend. We could pull weeds in the garden together and talk to the bees. We’d get on really well.
Here is an easy, non-spoiler way to tell you what the book is about:
There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.
All of these things are woven seamlessly throughout the book and you can see it all unfolding, and it is a wonderful and amazing thing. I didn’t notice them right away, but when it started to dawn on me what was going on it greatly increased my pleasure.
And then there is Atwood’s humor. I laughed out loud so many times, especially once the helpful Fuck was introduced. When you call out “Oh Fuck!” he rushes immediately to your aid. Toby had to make up a story about Fuck for the Crakers, the bioengineered and completely innocent humans created to populate the earth after a plague designed to kill the rest of the humans was unleashed on the world. Believe me, it’s a hoot. In fact, many of the interactions between the human humans and the Crakers are funny.
Given the end of the world as we know it scenario the book plays out you’d think it might be depressing. While there are deadly serious parts of the story, the book ends on a hopeful note. No, humans and the world will never be the same again, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
One of the scary things about the series of books though is that Atwood based everything in them on real technology and real-world events. She may have taken some of it beyond what is currently possible, but she does it in a logical way so the reader isn’t left thinking, “No way! That’s impossible!” You can see the seeds of much of it in her Flipboard MaddAddam’s World.
I am sad the series is done, I enjoyed it so much. I plan to read it all again sometime, one after the other, instead of having to wait a few years in between. Meanwhile, I look forward to finding out what’s up her sleeve for her next book.