The world is spiraling out of control, changing at an alarming rate; the environment is failing, as are the social contracts that hold society together. And then, the apocalypse comes, a waterless flood that destroys most humans on planet earth.
The Year of the Flood tells the story of this catastrophe, the before and after, through the very personal stories of two strong female characters, each spared from the catastrophe by being accidentally locked in their place of work. Toby is trapped in a spa (AnooYoo, full of soaps and health bars.) Ren is locked in a gentlemen’s club (Scales and Tails, full of drinks and bar nibbles.) As the narrative unfolds, we hear of the years leading up to the waterless flood, the different but interconnected paths Ren and Toby have taken, and their connection to the eco-religion God’s Gardeners.
Though this is both an apocalyptic and dystopian novel, Atwood adds humor. Science has played with gene splicing, creating unlikely combinations of animals like rakunks (raccoon/skunks) and liobams, dangerous lion-sheep splices with curly hair and a taste for both grasses AND meat. God’s Gardeners (the cult itself a mix of Christianity, asceticism, and the back-to-the-land movement ) have made saints out of well known figures in the science, like Saint Rachel Carson of All Birds and Saint Linnaeus of Botanical Nomenclature. (Some of the more obscure saints send the reader to the internet for more information!)
With The Year of the Flood, Atwood gives us speculative fiction at its very best. She takes clues from today and extrapolates them to create a new reality which is somehow both believable and haunting.
Check out the companion/prequel Oryx and Crake, which tells of the same apocalyptic event from a completely different perspective.
Both are available from the John Tyler Libraries. Check availability HERE.