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.
It was great to read Zeb’s backstory. I was always curious about him in The Year of the Flood (my review). And I enjoyed spending time with other favorite characters I remember from the other two books in the series. Toby’s reflections on how the Crakers will learn, adapt, and grow in this world was pretty thoughtfully done (yeah, how would they continue a tradition of writing? etc.) I found MaddAddam a bit more funny than the other books—more dark humor than I remember from O&C and Flood. You do need to read the first two before MaddAddam, I think, and I really wish I had read all three books consecutively instead of taking breaks in between (not always possible!). MaddAddam filled in a lot of gaps I wondered about, especially with Zeb, Adam One, and the Extinctathon game.
I still love this world that Margaret Atwood has built, but MaddAddam didn’t quite measure up in terms of “wow” factor that Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood did for me. I wasn’t captivated the way I was with the first two novels. Perhaps I was expecting too much? Maybe I don’t what I was expecting exactly, but after reading some other reviews online it seems I’m not alone. Toby was so awesome in Flood, what happened here?? She seems so preoccupied with her feelings for Zeb. I was excited to get back to Jimmy, but he was basically in a coma the whole book. Amanda was also a pretty awesome, strong character, but here too she is relegated to the background with debilitating PSTD (actually, this would have been an amazing topic to explore in MaddAddam). It struck me as a little too convenient that nearly all these people in the group knew each other from before the waterless flood.
I saw complaints online that the final conflict the characters face was a major let down. On one hand I agree, it wasn’t **HUGE DEAL** like we experienced before in the series. No spoiler here, but I will say that the first novels are pretty epic in scale and scope. Global catastrophe that wipes out 99% of the human race? Yeah, you kind of want a big finish! But on the other hand, wouldn’t the world be pretty quiet after that? Why wouldn’t the trilogy end with something that seems tame to us, but was a real threat to the well-being of this surviving group? And MaddAddam focuses on this small group in that moment, not the whole world and its fate.
I guess overall I just wanted more shock and awe, more of the familiar badassery in the female characters, more Jimmy—the first character we knew in this world. I do think MaddAddam is definitely worth reading if you read and loved O&C and Flood, but if you skip it the experience reading O&C and Flood aren’t diminished. It was great to be in that world again. Maybe MaddAddam is missing a critical element that we had in the first two books, like how O&C ripped apart corporate conglomerates, abuse of genetic engineering and technology, poverty and economics. Flood delved into the world of religious cults and environmental zealots. I liked the final moments of the novel (and trilogy)—everything was tied up pretty nicely, and I while I don’t require that to enjoy a book, I did feel like it was a fitting, if tempered, conclusion to the series.
Can’t wait to read more Margaret Atwood! I have The Blind Assassin on my TBR Pile Challenge this year.
Read from December 27, 2013 to January 13, 2014.