The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood begins after the plague from Oryx and Crake has killed off most of humanity. Two seemingly-different women have somehow survived; one, Toby, has barricaded herself inside a luxurious spa while exotic dancer Ren was fortunate to have been in quarantine at the time. Both women, however, share a common history as members of a religious group known as God’s Gardeners, who warned of a “waterless flood” that would wipe out humanity.

Most of the story focuses on Ren’s and Toby’s pasts in the Gardeners, a group briefly mentioned in Oryx and Crake. Atwood includes a sermon from the group’s leader at the beginning of each section, revealing the core tenets of the group, which seeks to reconcile Biblical tradition with modern biology. The Gardeners try to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, a contrast to the exaggerated commercialism surrounding them.

Year of the Flood also shows more of the “pleeblands” mentioned in Oryx and Crake, showing a world in which global warming has gotten out of control, and in which there is no corporate and environmental regulation whatsoever. The messages seem a bit heavy handed and absurd at times, but there is still a good story here.

The novel alternates between Toby’s point of view, and Ren’s, who tells her story in the third person. Both Ren and Toby’s stories intersect with each other, until the two are reunited near the end. The final portions after the plague feel a bit rushed, with the surviving characters finding one another a bit too quickly.

Many questions from the previous book are answered, including the origins of the “Extinctathon” game, and the identity of the people Jimmy encounters at the end of Oryx. New questions are raised as well however, such as Crake’s involvement with the Gardeners. Year of the Flood crosses over with Oryx and Crake in multiple places, although the novel can stand alone. This is still a great read, although the ending seems a bit abrupt; reading Oryx and Crake as well is recommended for a more complete story.