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MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 3) Kindle Edition
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The Story of the Egg, and of Oryx and Crake, and how they made People and Animals; and of the Chaos; and of Snowman-the-Jimmy; and of the Smelly Bone and the coming of the Two Bad Men
In the beginning, you lived inside the Egg. That is where Crake made you.
Yes, good, kind Crake. Please stop singing or I can’t go on with the story.
The Egg was big and round and white, like half a bubble, and there were trees inside it with leaves and grass and berries. All the things you like to eat.
Yes, it rained inside the Egg.
No, there was not any thunder.
Because Crake did not want any thunder inside the Egg.
And all around the Egg was the chaos, with many, many people who were not like you.
Because they had an extra skin. That skin is called clothes. Yes, like mine.
And many of them were bad people who did cruel and hurtful things to one another, and also to the animals. Such as . . . We don’t need to talk about those things right now.
And Oryx was very sad about that, because the animals were her Children. And Crake was sad because Oryx was sad.
And the chaos was everywhere outside the Egg. But inside the Egg there was no chaos. It was peaceful there.
And Oryx came every day to teach you. She taught you what to eat, she taught you to make fire, she taught you about the animals, her Children. She taught you to purr if a person is hurt. And Crake watched over you.
Yes, good, kind Crake. Please stop singing. You don’t have to sing every time. I’m sure Crake likes it, but he also likes this story and he wants to hear the rest.
Then one day Crake got rid of the chaos and the hurtful people, to make Oryx happy, and to clear a safe place for you to live in.
Yes, that did make things smell very bad for a while.
And then Crake went to his own place, up in the sky, and Oryx went with him.
I don’t know why they went. It must have been a good reason. And they left Snowman-the-Jimmy to take care of you, and he brought you to the seashore. And on Fish Days you caught a fish for him, and he ate it.
I know you would never eat a fish, but Snowman-the-Jimmy is different.
Because he has to eat a fish or he would get very sick.
Because that is the way he is made.
Then one day Snowman-the-Jimmy went to see Crake. And when he came back, there was a hurt on his foot. And you purred on it, but it did not get better.
And then the two bad men came. They were left over from the chaos.
I don’t know why Crake didn’t clear them away. Maybe they were hiding under a bush, so he didn’t see them. But they’d caught Amanda, and they were doing cruel and hurtful things to her.
We don’t need to talk about those things right now.
And Snowman-the-Jimmy tried to stop them. And then I came, and Ren, and we caught the two bad men and tied them to a tree with a rope. Then we sat around the fire and ate soup. Snowman-the-Jimmy ate the soup, and Ren, and Amanda. Even the two bad men ate the soup.
Yes, there was a bone in the soup. Yes, it was a smelly bone.
I know you do not eat a smelly bone. But many of the Children of Oryx like to eat such bones. Bobkittens eat them, and rakunks, and pigoons, and liobams. They all eat smelly bones. And bears eat them.
I will tell you what a bear is later.
We don’t need to talk any more about smelly bones right now.
And as they were all eating the soup, you came with your torches, because you wanted to help Snowman-the-Jimmy, because of his hurt foot. And because you could tell there were some women who were blue, so you wanted to mate with them.
You didn’t understand about the bad men, and about why they had a rope on them. It is not your fault they ran away into the forest. Don’t cry.
Yes, Crake must be very angry with the bad men. Perhaps he will send some thunder.
Yes, good, kind Crake.
Please stop singing.
About the events of that evening--the events that set human malice loose in the world again--Toby later made two stories. The first story was the one she told out loud, to the Children of Crake; it had a happy outcome, or as happy as she could manage. The second, for herself alone, was not so cheerful. It was partly about her own idiocy, her failure to pay attention, but also it was about speed. Everything had happened so quickly.
She’d been tired, of course; she must have been suffering from an adrenalin plunge. After all, she’d been going strong for two days with a lot of stress and not much to eat.
The day before, she and Ren had left the safety of the MaddAddam cobb-house enclave that sheltered the few survivors from the global pandemic that had wiped out humanity. They’d been tracking Ren’s best friend, Amanda, and they’d found her just in time because the two Painballers who’d been using her had almost used her up. Toby was familiar with the ways of such men: she’d been almost killed by one of them before she’d become a God’s Gardener. Anyone who’d survived Painball more than once had been reduced to the reptilian brain. Sex until you were worn to a fingernail was their mode; after that, you were dinner. They liked the kidneys.
Toby and Ren had crouched in the shrubbery while the Painballers argued over the rakunk they were eating, and whether to attack the Crakers, and what to do next with Amanda. Ren had been scared silly; Toby hoped she wouldn’t faint, but she couldn’t worry about that because she was nerving herself to fire. Which to shoot first, the bearded one or the shorthair? Would the other have time to grab their spraygun? Amanda wouldn’t be able to help, or even run: they had a rope around her neck, with the other end tied to the leg of the bearded one. A wrong move by Toby, and Amanda would be dead.
Then a strange man had shambled out of the bushes, sunburnt and scabby and naked and clutching a spraygun, and had almost shot everyone in sight, Amanda included. But Ren had screamed and run into the clearing, and that had been enough of a distraction. Toby had stepped out, rifle aimed; Amanda had torn free; and the Painballers had been subdued with the aid of some groin kicks and a rock, and tied up with their own rope and with strips torn from the pink AnooYoo Spa top-to-toe sun coverup that Toby had been wearing.
Ren had then busied herself with Amanda, who was possibly in shock, and also with the scabby naked man, whom she called Jimmy. She’d wrapped him up in the rest of the top-to-toe, talking to him softly; it seemed he was a long-ago boyfriend of hers.
Now that things were tidier, Toby had felt she could relax. She’d steadied herself with a Gardener breathing exercise, timing it to the soothing rhythm of the nearby waves--wish-wash, wish-wash--until her heart had slowed to normal. Then she’d cooked a soup.
And then the moon had risen.
The rising moon signalled the beginning of the God’s Gardeners Feast of Saint Julian and All Souls: a celebration of God’s tenderness and compassion for all creatures. The universe is held in the hollow of His hand, as Saint Julian of Norwich taught us in her mystic vision so long ago. Forgiveness must be offered, loving kindness must be practised, circles must be unbroken. All souls means all, no matter what they may have done. At least from moonrise to moonset.
Once the Gardener Adams and Eves taught you something, you stayed taught. It would have been next to impossible for her to kill the Painballers on that particular night--butcher them in cold blood, since by that time the two of them were firmly roped to a tree.
Amanda and Ren had done the roping. They’d been to Gardener school together where they’d done a lot of crafts with recycled materials, so they were proficient at knotwork. Those guys looked like macramé.
On that blessed Saint Julian’s evening, Toby had set the weaponry to one side--her own antiquated rifle and the Painballers’ spraygun, and Jimmy’s spraygun as well. Then she’d played the kindly godmother, ladling out the soup, dividing up the nutrients for all to share.
She must have been mesmerized by the spectacle of her own nobility and kindness. Getting everyone to sit in a circle around the cozy evening fire and drink soup together--even Amanda, who was so traumatized she was almost catatonic; even Jimmy, who was shivering with fever and talking to a dead woman who was standing in the flames. Even the two Painballers: did she really think they would have a conversion experience and start hugging bunnies? It’s a wonder she didn’t sermonize as she doled out the bone soup. Some for you, and some for you, and some for you! Shed the hatred and viciousness! Come into the circle of light!
But hatred and viciousness are addictive. You can get high on them. Once you’ve had a little, you start shaking if you don’t get more.
As they were eating the soup, they’d heard voices approaching through the shoreline trees. It was the Children of Crake, the Crakers--the strange gene-spliced quasi-humans who lived by the sea. They were filing through the trees, carrying pitch-pine torches and singing their crystalline songs.
Toby had seen these people only briefly, and in daytime. Gleaming in the moonlight and the torchlight, they were even more beautiful. They were all colours--brown, yellow, black, white--and all heights, but each was perfect. The women were smiling serenely; the men were in full courtship mode, holding out bunches of flowers, their naked bodies like a fourteen-year-old’s comic-book rendition of how bodies ought to be, each muscle and ripple defined and glistening. Their bright blue and unnaturally large penises were wagging from side to side like the tails of friendly dogs.
Afterwards, Toby could never quite remember the sequence of events, if you could call it a sequence. It had been more like a pleebland street brawl: rapid action, tangled bodies, a cacophony of voices.
Where is the blue? We can smell the blue! Look, there is Snowman! He is thin! He is very sick!
Ren: Oh shit, it’s the Crakers. What if they want . . . Look at their . . . Crap!
The Craker women, spotting Jimmy: Let us help Snowman! He needs us to purr!
The Craker men, sniffing Amanda: She is the blue one! She smells blue! She wants to mate with us! Give her the flowers! She will be happy!
Amanda, scared: Stay away! I don’t . . . Ren, help me! Four large, beautiful, flower-toting naked men close in on her. Toby! Get them away from me! Shoot them!
The Craker women: She is sick. First we have to purr on her. To make her better. And give her a fish?
The Craker men: She is blue! She is blue! We are happy! Sing to her!
The other one is blue also.
That fish is for Snowman. We must keep that fish.
Ren: Amanda, maybe just take the flowers, or they might get mad or something . . .
Toby, her voice thin and ineffectual: Please, listen, stand back, you’re frightening . . .
What is this? Is this a bone? Several of the women, peering into the soup pot: Are you eating this bone? It smells bad.
We do not eat bones. Snowman does not eat bones, he eats a fish. Why do you eat a smelly bone?
It is Snowman’s foot that is smelling like a bone. A bone left by vultures. Oh Snowman, we must purr on your foot!
Jimmy, feverish: Who are you? Oryx? But you’re dead. Everyone’s dead. Everyone in the whole world, they’re all dead . . . He starts crying.
Do not be sad, Oh Snowman. We have come to help.
Toby: Maybe you shouldn’t touch . . . that’s infected . . . he needs . . .
Jimmy: Ow! Fuck!
Oh Snowman, do not kick. It will hurt your foot. Several of them begin to purr, making a noise like a kitchen mixer.
Ren, calling for help: Toby! Toby! Hey! Let go of her!
Toby looks over, across the fire: Amanda has disappeared in a flickering thicket of naked male limbs and backs. Ren throws herself into the sprawl and is quickly submerged.
Toby: Wait! Don’t . . . Stop that! What should she do? This is a major cultural misunderstanding. If only she had a pail of cold water!
Muffled cries. Toby rushes to help, but then:
One of the Painballers: Hey you! Over here!
These ones smell very bad. They smell like dirty blood. Where is the blood?
What is this? This is a rope. Why are they tied up with a rope?
Snowman showed us rope before, when he lived in a tree. Rope is for making his house. Oh Snowman, why is the rope tied to these men?
This rope is hurting these ones. We must take it away.
A Painballer: Yeah, that’s right. We’re in fucking agony. (Groans.)
Toby: Don’t touch them, they’ll . . .
The second Painballer: Fucking hurry up, Blueballs, before that old bitch . . .
Toby: No! Don’t untie . . . Those men will . . .
But it was already too late. Who knew the Crakers could be so quick with knots?
The two men were gone into the darkness, leaving behind them a snarl of rope and a scattering of embers. Idiot, Toby thought. You should have been merciless. Bashed their heads in with a rock, slit their throats with your knife, not even wasted any bullets on them. You were a dimwit, and your failure to act verges on criminal negligence.
It was hard to see--the fire was fading--but she made a quick inventory: at least her rifle was still there, a small mercy. But the Painballer spraygun was missing. Pinhead, she told herself. So much for your Saint Julian and the loving kindness of the universe. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
"Thoughtful, sardonic, and full of touches that almost resemble a fairy tale, MaddAddam will stick with you long after you've put it down. It's an apocalypse story about new life, and a condemnation of humanity that ends, however uneasily, with a celebration of it." —NPR
"MaddAddam is sharp, witty and strong enough to stand alone ... Peppered with witty neologisms, Atwood’s character-driven novel is terrific precisely because of close attention to detail, to voice, to what’s in the hearts of these people: love, loss, the need to keep on keeping on, no matter what ... [T]his novel sings." —Miami Herald
"[S]ardonically funny ... [Atwood] certainly has the tone exactly right, both for the linguistic hypocrisy that can disguise any kind of catastrophe, and for the contemptuous dismissal of those who point to disaster ... MaddAddam is at once a pre- and a post-apocalypse story." —The Wall Street Journal
"[T]here is something funny, even endearing, about such a dark and desperate view of a future — a ravaged world emerging from alarmingly familiar trends — that is so jam-packed with the gifts of imagination, invention, intelligence and joy. There may be some hope for us yet." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Margaret Atwood continues to flourish as she approaches her fifth decade of publication ... A thrilling and enchanting — funny, sad, clever, audacious — tale of grumpy, deflated, and perilous post-apocalyptic times, year 0.6." —The Vancouver Sun
"[T]he imaginative universe Atwood has created in these books is huge ... It's a dystopia, but it's still fun ... Atwood doesn't just ask what if, she raises an eyebrow and says, See where we're going? Yet she's not a pessimist: She's invented a future large enough to include, after the end of the world, people falling in love." —Los Angeles Times
"This unsentimental narrative exposes the heart of human creativity as well as our self-destructive darkness ... MaddAddam is fueled with edgy humor, sardonic twists, hilarious coincidences." —Boston Globe
"The final entry in Atwood’s brilliant MaddAddam trilogy roils with spectacular and furious satire ... Her vision is as affirming as it is cautionary, and the conclusion of this remarkable trilogy leaves us not with a sense of despair at mankind’s failings but with a sense of awe at humanity’s barely explored potential to evolve." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ten years after Oryx & Crake rocked readers the world over, Atwood brings her cunning, impish, and bracing speculative trilogy—following The Year of the Flood—to a gritty, stirring, and resonant conclusion ... Atwood is ascendant, from her resilient characters to the feverishly suspenseful plot involving battles, spying, cyberhacking, murder, and sexual tension ... The coruscating finale in an ingenious, cautionary trilogy of hubris, fortitude, wisdom, love, and life’s grand obstinacy." —Booklist
"[T]ense and exciting ... MaddAddam is an extraordinary achievement ... Atwood's body of work will last precisely because she has told us about ourselves. It is not always a pretty picture, but it is true for all that." —The Independent (UK)
"[MaddAddam] deploys its author's trademark cool, omniscient satire, but adds to that a real sense of engagement with a fallen world. Atwood has created something reminiscent of Shakespeare's late comedies; her wit and dark humour combine with a compassionate tenderness towards struggling human beings." —The Independent (UK) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00BRUQ3PS
- Publisher : Anchor (September 3, 2013)
- Publication date : September 3, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 3672 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 497 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #87,351 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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This series should really be called The Half Century of the Waterless Flood. The USA government failed around the year 2100 and the various Corporation security forces took charge ending up in "he who has the gold makes the rules". For safety reasons, the Corporations had already built their areas into walled enclaves of peace and safety, they just extended their influence into the general populace.
The 22nd century is a wild and crazy place. The gene splicers are running rampant in the center of civilization and at the edges. Many different animals have been spliced together or modified for different reasons. A religious cult had a liobam built from a lion and lamb and then set them to roam free. A drug manufacturer built the pigoon, a pig with significant human DNA for growing human hearts and kidneys, up to ten at a time. But the human DNA made the pigoon a predator and a team builder.
Crake was the best of the gene splicers. He bioengineered enhancements for humans to extend life and make people younger. And then he built his children, a new human with less violent tendencies and able to live from eating grass. And then Crake built a virus, a horrible virus that killed off 99+% of the human race around the globe in a year. Except, those few people that Crake gave the vaccine to or managed to quarantine themselves away from the populace.
All good things must come to an end and so must all horrible things. The series was very good and also very horrible. The Waterless Flood Pandemic killed over 99.9% of humanity with the gengineered virus. Yet what was life like afterwards ? Do the children of Crake and Oryx repopulate the planet ?
I read MaddAddam, the third and final book in Margaret Atwood's dystopian trilogy of the same name, in an indulgent fervor. I neglected my own writing regime to read it, read it past my bedtime. I went camping this past weekend, and instead of hiking or moving around in some semblance of an athletic and rugged way, I set up my tent and curled up on top of my sleeping bag to read more MaddAddam. I consumed the book, swallowed it whole. It's hard to tell if I liked it or not--I am pretty sure I did--but I can say with certainty that I was engaged with it.
Ok, so the book itself: unlike Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, where much of the action and plot really takes place in the book's narrative past through the use of flashbacks the action in MaddAddam is pretty evenly split between the book's diegetic present and past. There's even, at the end, a bit of diegetic future thrown in. In my review of The Year of the Flood I discussed how the first two books of this trilogy were mirror images--structurally similar but inverted in terms of their themes and respective focus. I wondered if MaddAddam would follow suit or attempt to unify the other two books. MaddAddam, I think, establishes itself firmly as a concluding volume through its attempt to unify the other two books in the series. MaddAddam picks up right where The Year of the Flood leaves off and carries the narrative thread of what happens to Toby and Ren and Jimmy in the book's present, that is in the lonely aftermath of Crake's Waterless Flood. At the end of the previous book, the Crakers--Crake's genetically engineered `perfect' humans, part of whose perfection seems to be an utterly guileless nature--set free a pair of vicious criminals into the woods. Much of the plot of MaddAddam is driven by this pair of murderer/rapist/all around evil guys as they skulk around the protagonists' homestead, pick off the wildlife, and engage in a lot of psychological warfare. The book's resolution, such as it is, comes as a result of a climactic standoff between the protagonists, the MaddAddamites, and the criminals in the Paradice Dome where the Crakers were engineered. Intercut with this is the story of Zeb, a MaddAddamite and former God's Gardener who ends up as Toby's lover, was Ren's stepfather, and knew Crake when Crake was a boy. The origins of the God's Gardeners cult is revealed through Zeb's back story, and through him we get deeper insights into the ever-enigmatic mad scientist Crake.
That's the plot, but like with all of Atwood's work the plot plays second fiddle to its themes. One of those themes is the power of narrative. This theme has been a unifying point through all three books, though how it's been perceived and presented has varied from character to character. While the other two books in the trilogy are fairly straightforward in terms of how they're told, this one is more complicated. In Oryx and Crake and in The Year of the Flood the story is revealed through one or two people's viewpoints, and those viewpoints are static inasmuch that we know it's Jimmy or Toby or Ren thinking these thoughts, having these memories, experiencing this or that thing. MaddAddam confuses things: Toby is the protagonist, for the most part, but what we, the readers, actually get is a mix of Toby's thoughts, Toby's experiences, Toby's retellings of other people's stories and, eventually, other people retelling Toby's story. What we find out about Zeb's history is both in and not in his voice--the stories start from Toby's perspective as the pair lay together in the dark, and eventually Zeb's voice appears to take over. Occasionally the stride of his voice is broken when Toby interrupts. Then, Toby takes his stories and translates them into myth and legend for the Crakers. Toby herself becomes both the teller of tales to the Crakers and a tale to be told by the Crakers by the end of the book. While Jeanette Winterson in Weight dealt with how we use narrative to construct ourselves Atwood here is highlighting the power of shared narratives to construct a community. It's a theme that richly permeates the book, start to finish, in both subtle and obvious ways. It's a theme that builds on pieces from the other two books. It's masterfully done, especially given that there is so much potential for an approach to narrative this way to be confusing but the book remains clear throughout.
So, that's one theme I saw coming long before I cracked open the book. Way back in Oryx and Crake I picked up on the idea that Atwood was writing these books to show us how redemptive and damning narrative can be, that we can change our trajectories by changing the kinds of stories we tell ourselves. That's what speculative fiction is all about. But there was something else which crystallized in MaddAddam a theme, or rather an open question, which I did not see coming. Maybe I'm the only one who didn't, I don't know. The question is this: what is it that makes us worth saving? This questions starts about humanhood--what makes us human? Are the Crakers, with their genetic modifications and guileless, deeply innocent frame to the world, are they human? What does it mean if they aren't? What does it mean if they are? While these questions have been lurking along the outskirts of the text in both Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood they come to the forefront when Toby and Ren bring a very sick Jimmy to the MaddAddamite compound and the Crakers insist on following. The MaddAddamites propose scientific delineations: are the Crakers capable of abstract thought, can they produce viable offspring with a normal human, etc.
The question of humanhood turns into a question of personhood over the course of the book. The Pigoons, huge pigs engineered to grow replacement organs for the human elite including human neocortex brain tissue, end up in an alliance with the MaddAddamites. The Pigoons have been around since the very start of the series--Jimmy's father used to work on them in one of the science Corps--and hints have been dropped along the way that they have developed sentience. But, still, the moment where one of the young Crakers literally communicates with a Pigoon and serves as a translator between the Pigoons and the MaddAddamites is a moment of profound strangeness not least because it shakes what we construct as personhood at its foundations. And in that moment, we gain great insight into Crake's plan, his vision, his reasons for spreading a swift and deadly plague across the world. If the natural world demands we adapt or die, then the only way destructive humanity as it exists to adapt is to die, for us to replace ourselves with more harmonious creatures, for us to make space for something to be a person besides ourselves. The moment this happens is wrapped up in a swiftly moving plot, with little textual time to chew over it or ponder it. I wanted the book to slow down a second, to unpack it, but it pushed on ahead.
I rate this book 4 stars because it's close to perfect but not quite. A side plot of the book, the search for Adam One of the God's Gardeners cult, fizzles and dies without the emotional resonance it needed. I could have done without some of Toby's repetitive insecurities about her relationship with Zeb--while realistic I feel they defanged her character somewhat, which was a pity since she's such a tough, strong, fallible and emotionally truthful character. And, as I said, the pacing of the plot sometimes ran roughshod over the thematic developments. In spite of all that, MaddAddam is a wonderful and rich book in its own right, peculiar and heavy, and a masterful end to a trilogy. In terms of its ability to deepen and provide closure to a very good series of books it reminds me of Pullman's The Amber Spyglass*.
*If you haven't read Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy you really, really should.
Top reviews from other countries
Oryx and Crake dealt with the upper-echelons of society and the scientific genius who created the plague and the new humans, while Year of the Flood told the interlocking story of the underclass and the God's Gardeners environmentalist cult. The two books worked well together to fill in each other's blanks, give various different perspectives on the world and the plot, and create a fully rounded universe. I was therefore unsure what else this third book could add.
As with the earlier books, MaddAddam presents both a linear narrative of life after the "Waterless Flood" for the handful of survivors, and flashbacks to life in the pre-plague world of genetic engineering, stark class divides and armed corporations.
The "modern-day" sections focus on Toby, who is holed up with a combination of God's Gardeners, former MaddAddam affiliates, a (mostly unconscious) Jimmy from the first book, and a large group of Crakers, the new humans, to whom she tells selective stories of the past as a sort of creation myth. The focus is on the story-telling sessions, on the group defending themselves against Painballers and the world's strange man-made animals, (though there is very little action), and on Toby's relationship with Zeb. The storytelling concept and the development of the Crakers was interesting, but otherwise, these sections, while redeemed by Atwood's writing skills and characterisation, were ultimately quite dull.
The storytelling sessions and Toby's diary, which ultimately become a sort of Bible, are well done, playing with ideas of folklore, origin stories and the development of a shared culture. Though this premise was intriguing, I ultimately felt it was a little laboured and overdone. Constant Craker interruptions and misunderstandings of Toby's stories became trying when I just wanted to immerse myself in the tale, and the sections told by the Crakers felt a little twee. Cloud Atlas did a similar thing much more succinctly and subtly, by showing how one character's police interview became a religious text in the future. Still, I'm a firm believer that there shouldn't be a solid divide between literary and genre fiction, so it's refreshing to see such complex ideas being explored in this sort of story.
The best parts of the book were the flashbacks. The dystopian world is so well developed that it's fascinating to spend time there. That said, I didn't feel that these sections, focussed on Zeb and Adam One this time, added much to what readers have seen in earlier books. Zeb has lots of adventures, but doesn't really seem to do much. And while it's heavily implied that Adam is heavily embroiled in various plots, I was no clearer on his actual role in events by the end.
In essence, I don't think this book needed to be written in order to make this a complete series, and I don't think it's as good as its predecessors. That said, the writing, the imagination on display and the fascinating world still make it a pleasure to read, and I raced through it, complex ideas about storytelling and exciting tales of fights with mutant bears alike. I'd definitely recommend to fans of the author and the series, and if you haven't read the earlier books yet, do so now. If you have, a quick re-read may be in order - at times I struggled to remember the details of earlier plots and it would be interesting to see how they all merge together.
Also - the Crakes! Sweet Jesus! The Crakes are the sole reason I'm only giving this novel 2 stars. For the first two novels, they were always in the background, and that was fine. In MaddAddam they are very much in the foreground and they need every last little thing explained to them. This didn't move the plot along and it read like the character(s) were talking to a guinea pig... not in the experimental sense. Like talking to a literal, rodent, guinea pig. Not up to Atwood's usual standard.
A good book and fitting end to the story...... but I still want more of this story-line. Very seductive writing by a great novelist.
I did think the narrative style was interesting: the re-telling of stories in different genres, with the naive and simplified myths for the Crakers forming an interesting contrast to the more cynical, realistic first person narratives. Unlike several reviews I've read in newspapers, I thought the Crakers were fascinating, and I also found Zeb's story gripping once I got into it. I wanted to get inside Amanda's and Ren's heads more, however.
What I found unsatisfying was the sudden change to a distanced retrospective narrative to tell the climactic part of the story. Without giving away the actual plot, I found the method of telling this tense and dramatic part of the story rendered it much less tense and dramatic. The first two novels in the trilogy are imbued with an apocalyptic sense of intensely-conveyed dread - you just feel that something even more appalling is going to happen all the time. The painballers are a constant unseen threat in this novel but somehow the episode that deals with them seemed oddly disconnected and under-compelling, as if Atwood herself couldn't stand any more tension and wanted to step back from the immediacy of the action. In one way, this was a relief as I could barely stand reading about any more terrible things happening to this group of people I had grown to feel as if I knew, but it also felt vaguely like a cop-out.
My other slight gripe was the pregnancies which appeared to be the result of an innocent gang-rape by the Crakers, as far as I could tell - a disturbing and weirdly under-discussed event. Did this occur in Book Two? Like other reviewers, I felt I should have re-read the earlier books before embarking on Book Three as I had clearly forgotten the details of the story. More detailed knowledge of the earlier story would have helped flesh out my reading experience while reading Book Three. So I advise would-be readers to re-read Books One and Two.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was very well-written as always, Margaret Atwood being reliable as a writer of great skill. I also recommend reading the hard-copy novels rather than an ebook version as it somehow felt less real to me reading it from my kindle.