By September 28, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

The Year of the Flood

The Greendale Public Library’s Greendale Reads title this month was The Year of the Flood (2009) by Margaret Atwood.  A dystopian novel, it moves back and forth through time plus is narrated by three different main characters.   Adam One is the cult leader who has predicted the Waterless Flood that appears to have actually happened, wiping out most of humanity.  Toby is a former “Eve” in the cult who, while never really a believer, maintains the rituals out of either a sense of duty or on the chance that it might be needed.  The last character is Ren who joined the cult out of necessity and left for the same reason, only to become a pole dancer in a gentleman’s club.

Each of these three characters is deeply affected by the Waterless Flood.  More importantly, they are quite willing to share their stories, outlining how they reached the point where the Apocalypse is the only reality.  The back story is as chilling as any future these characters will face.

The use of satire is powerfully done.  While the religious nature of Adam One’s teaching are ripe for humor there is a basic goodness in his attempts to save his people and lead them to a better life.  The hopelessness of some character’s situations is sad but the author manages to inject some hope into each story which helps relieve the constant tension in the character’s situations.

Our group had a lively discussion on this title and some could relate it to Atwood’s related novel, Oryx and Crake (2003).  Most in the group are looking forward to the promised last volume in this series of sorts.  In comparison to other dystopian fiction, the group mentioned the current hot title, The Hunger Games, as a read alike.

While this title did not draw big numbers and was rejected by some of our normal attendees at this twice-annual event, I would have to say that the book led to a lively 90- minute discussion that satisfied all who attended.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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