Warning: Possible spoilers for Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. TW: rape.
Survivors of the man-made plague that has made humans an endangered species must protect themselves and the newly discovered Crakers from two painballer veterans while trying to find others from their group they hope have survived. The final pieces of Crake’s life are revealed as a new world begins.
If you only ever choose to read one dystopian series, I must insist that it be this one. MaddAdam is the perfect conclusion to the story begun in Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. The world she’s built is one of the most interesting I’ve ever had the fortune to read. Her prose is a beautiful mix of humour and shocking bluntness. If there is one weakness it might be in the secondary characters who don’t seem to stand out much from each other, but with several primary characters to keep the reader occupied this is not much of an issue.
Every detail in the MaddAdam world is so vivid that I feel as if I’ve lived within the world myself. Perhaps that is because I live in a world very much like it. The world Atwood describes is our world a couple steps forward and tilted slightly, but not as slightly as we may like to believe. It is a world of dwindling resources, a widening gap between the societal classes, and an increasing thirst for more: more danger, more blood, more sex. It’s not difficult to understand why Crake felt it was best to wipe the slate and start again. Now I’m not condoning mass-genocide and I don’t think Atwood is either, but I think she does a good job of making the entire situation believable and my feelings towards Crake and his choices have definitely shifted drastically throughout the three books.
This has a lot to do with Atwood’s narration style. My inner-English nerd is trying so hard to write an essay about this narration styles, folks, like you don’t understand how glorious her narration style is and she mixes it up and the narrator’s are so unreliable and complex and I love it all so much okay. But in interest of time, let’s just say, Atwood is a master story-teller. Her years of practice really show and make me want to read some more novelists with a couple dozen novels under their belt.
I had to really search for something that could be improved on (in interest of a balanced review), and all I could think of were how unattached I was to several of the secondary characters. I don’t normally have a hard time keeping track of characters, but this book’s large cast flits between names and don’t seem to have many distinguishing qualities, except for maybe Swift Fox. I would actually love to read some short stories from their perspectives: maybe get another look into Paradice from someone who was on the science side of things instead of the word side like Jimmy. Especially from the women because women doing science-y things is like candy to me, and it might help counter some of the less awesome women interaction that was happening with the survivors (i.e. Toby. See also: what the heck happened to you girl?).
This review is too long already and I didn’t even have the chance to get into the feminism stuff, but I do want to say that I have mixed feelings about the treatment of rape and abortion. More than once a character called a gang rape that took place a “cultural misunderstanding” which is unfortunately accurate but still made me feel ill. On the other hand, the Crakers quickly learned that even if they are receiving signals that made them believe the women wanted to have sex with them, the verbal communications of these women that said otherwise were to be taken above all else. I also liked that any talk of abortions was from the lens that the woman’s mental and physical safety was the most important thing. Overall, I liked the way that Atwood handle these topics, and I think a more in-depth reading would help me unravel my feelings towards it.
One more quick thing I have to mention is this has some serious awesome commentary on religions and how they can begin. That has been a running theme since book one but it becomes particularly obvious in book three and was just super interesting to me. I tend to avoid the higher-thinking level books because when I read it’s for fun but Atwood combines the two seamlessly so I didn’t realize I was being entertained and thinking until I’d reached the end.
In short, read this book. Read this series. It is one of the best things I’ve read in my entire life. This is not an exaggeration. Seriously. Read it.
Don’t just take my word for it!
“There’s enough urgency to both narratives to keep you turning the pages, and Atwood’s prose is clear, fluid, and flecked with her trademark dry humour.” – Your Hidden Shelf
“While Maddadam was slightly disappointing, I would nevertheless recommend it to readers, especially those who read and loved Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.” – Browsing Bookshelves