This The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood discussion is continued from Kailana's The Written World.
The Year of the Flood is a sequel to Oryx and Crake where the world's population has been wiped out by a man made plague. Toby and Ren are one of the few alive: Ren, locked in the sex club and Toby survives in a spa where they worked.
Chris: I know, that's the scary thing. When in the future, do you think this was supposed to be?
Kelly: You know, I would love to say way way down the road, but it is quite plausible to be not so far into the future at all. We have all ready started manipulating the science that is presented in the book, so it probably won't be all that long before we can do the things in the book. It all comes down to what will we do when the technology is available. I am with gene manipulation to a degree. I understand it for curing diseases, but when is it too much... That's the real issue here. So, I can see this being a problem very soon. What do you think?
Chris: I think that what Atwood is trying to warn us about. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should. It's like Jurassic Park- look what happens when the dinosaurs come back, we're dino chow! Scientists need to use common sense. The Corporations also had a lot of blame in what happens. That is another part of the book that has a basis in our time.
Kelly: Corporations are scary, you know. I appreciated how Atwood uses them to rule the world. In many ways they do in today's world. One of the scenes that really made me think, though, was when Toby's mother got sick and died even though she was a health food fanatic. Healthy eating is the way of the world right now, but do we always know exactly what we are using? Toby's mother bought into the craze and didn't even question that what she was taking to make her healthy was actually what was making her sick. This could tie into the medical world and over-prescribing of pills, too. People don't question things because they are told they are good for them, so they just turn a blind eye, so to speak.
Chris: Yes, and a company with a lot of money can do or say whatever they want. Who can stand up to them?
Kelly: Especially when they run everything that could possibly stand in their way. It was a bit extreme. Who really needs sheep in every colour of the rainbow, for example? It was science just for the sake of being able to do science. One thing that I found myself paying attention to as the novel progressed is the saints. When they first were mentioned I just read the names and carried on, but then I started to recognize the names. What did you think about the fact she uses not just saints from history, but she has sainted some great people from our own generation? I am sure I missed a bunch. I plan to go through and look them all up.
Chris: For the Gardeners, I would think they would be able to relate to those people than they would some of the traditional saints. While I recognized some, I didn't know who they all were either. Again it shows how good a leader Adam One was.
Kelly: I agree. Was there anything that jumped out at you as you were reading that you felt you were going to have to mention in the review?
Chris: One thing that disturbed me was how the girls' treated their sexuality as a commodity. It was something they could barter with. They seemed so disconnected from it. I also wanted to talk about the hymns. I'm not one to read songs in books so I skimmed over most of them but in the afterword, Atwood talks about how someone set the hymns to music. She even says she wouldn't mind people singing them. I think it would freak me out to hear those songs being sung knowing where they came from!
Kelly: I skimmed over the hymns, too. I actually had heard about them being set to music. I could be mistaken, but I think as part of her tour they are performed... As to the sex as a commodity, that is something that seems to be getting more and more common in society, so it is easy to see it being even more casual in the future. It's rather horrible, really. The future could be really scary. The whole idea behind the book is to scare, I think. Did you think like that, or was it just me?
Chris: I think that is what is so interesting about dystopian novels. It seems so extreme yet so plausible. It's a warning at the same time to us now not to let things get to that point.
Kelly: I hope we don't get to that point! Did you like the book overall?
Chris: I did. Maybe not as much as Oryx & Crake though.
Kelly: I looked it up. I read Oryx & Crake in 2003, so I don't remember it so well. It wasn't until the novel progressed that I started to make the connection with the characters and remembered what happened in the previous novel.
Chris: So did you like it?
Kelly: Once I got into it, yes. It took me a while, though. I had to get caught up in the characters and story. Once I did, though, it was good. I can't remember her other book well enough to compare them. There is a lot to talk about, we could be here forever, but do you think there is anything we haven't mentioned that we really should?
Chris: I can't think of much else, can you?
Kelly: I think we are good. Anything else and we run the risk of spoiling the book for others. It was fun, though.
Chris: Yeah, we'll have to do it again.
Kelly: We will! I really like buddy reviews.
Thank you Kelly for reading The Year of the Flood with me.
Thanks to Random House for the review copy.