Monday, 4 November 2013

The Sadness of a Series: Margaret Atwood's "Maddaddam" (book review)

Trilogies fill me with a weird sense of regret.  There is a certain sadness that comes with finishing the story, and knowing that's there all there is and all there is going to be. No more hope for sequels when sequels have already been had.

In the case of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, I never really expected there to be a sequel.  Sure it has a cliffhanger ending, but I thought the ending was perfectly suited to the tone and subject matter of the story and was in no need of further explanation.  Yet I eagerly devoured both The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam, the latter of the two being my read for this month's bookclub, where our genre (so to speak) was women writers.

Loose ends are sewn up nicely in MaddAddam, which unifies the stories found in the previous two volumes and brings together the Crakers, Snowman/Jimmy, and the MaddAddamites.  Snowman/Jimmy, who spent a good portion of the last two books hovering around death's door, is nursed back to health and plays a pivotal role (albeit somewhat inadvertently) in uniting the Crakers and MaddAddamites in the common goal of protecting themselves from the vicious criminal painballers.  I really enjoyed how the book focused on the perspective of Toby, who was introduced and served as one of the main characters in the previous book.  It was also wonderful to finally get a Craker perspective in the form of Blackbeard.  In the early part of this book, I found the Crakers too be too much comic relief (who is Fuck?  hee hee), but Blackbeard's point-of-view helps to balance this out a bit.

And so now comes the mourning.  Well, mourning is maybe a little dramatic.  Now comes the wistfulness of knowing you've come to the end of a great story.  If you haven't read any of this trilogy, I highly recommend it, the first book Oryx and Crake is the best of the bunch and is really an outstanding work of dystopian fiction.  As always, I recommend these books most of all to people who are not Margaret Atwood fans.  There is something universal about these books in their appeal that reaches even to those (like me) who were force-fed Atwood poetry in high school and disliked it.

Trust me on this one.

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