I am always a bit hit-and-miss with Margaret Atwood - either I love her books or I can't get past the first chapter. Fortunately this book falls into the former category. Right from the first couple of pages, I was drawn into the world that she has created, and it was a book that stayed with me, even when I wasn't reading.
She has created a world in the not-so-distant future where all of the bad things happening in our world today have continued and become worse - global warming, pollution, materialistic culture, privatization and increasing power of corporations, uncontrolled genetic engineering, invasive species, rapid species extinction, and the list could go on. And all of these things are drawn together so that the picture, bleak as it is, is unified and believable. There are certainly lots of lessons for our society to learn from the world that she has created.
The characters were also well drawn and believable - every one has their good points as well as their weaker points, and in typical Atwood fashion, there are some good strong female characters.
This book is being marketed as a "companion" book to Oryx and Crake, which I know that I read shortly after it came out in 2003; but as it is not on my bookshelves, I must have borrowed a library copy. I want to dig it out and read it again, to appreciate how they fit together. And I do hope that she writes a third book in this world - The Year of the Flood has a true Atwoodian ending where you are left not knowing what happens to the characters in the long run (I finished the last sentence, turned the page expecting another chapter, and that was it!), and I do want to know more.
The Year of the Flood is also on the Long List for the Giller Prize - the shortlist is going to be announced next week, and if this book doesn't make the short list, the competition must be pretty stiff indeed!
This book was also read for the Canadian Book Challenge at The Book Mine Set.