“The people in the chaos cannot learn. They cannot understand what they are doing to the sea and the sky and the plants and the animals. They cannot understand that they are killing them, and that they will end by killing themselves. And there are so many of them, and each one of them is doing part of the killing, whether they know it or not. ”
― Margaret Atwood,
From the visionary Sci-Fi writer that brought us Oryx and Crake and “The Year of the Flood” (which I have not read yet), comes the end of the trilogy of Snowman and the Crakers and the end of the era of Humanity and the new beginning.
The future has never looked so bleak.
I can’t say I liked this book. It’s satirical, funny at points, confusing in others. Pigs that can communicate through telepathy and have social rituals of burial and eating of their dead? The story of a religious cult worshiping Oil? The boring bed-time stories that they tell the Crakers that end up being their Creationist story similar to our Bible?
I don’t know… I think this book was meant more of a joke than a real possibility for our future, a small middle finger to society. Even if you’re reading MaddAddam to be further immersed in the dystopian world that Margaret Atwood created in Oryx and Crake, you’ll probably still be disappointed. 75% of this novel takes place in the past, rehashing Zeb’s life in the pleeblands and his relationship with Adam One. There are a few interesting new additions to the world, but the vast majority of Zeb’s activities are tied to the other books’ plot lines; his story just retells what you already know.
The story starts out a few months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity. Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers who have left her with child (or possibly not as we later see).
They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike (a pigoon is an intelligent pig with a human neocortex). Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it’s left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb. Zeb has been searching for Adam One, founder of the God’s Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their new-found allies, some of whom have four trotters. At the center of MaddAddam is the story of Zeb’s dark and twisted past, which contains a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.
The writing – and never before have I said this about Atwood – felt droll in places and just sort of flat and forced in some others. The dialogue in particular irked me considering the urgent danger these characters were in of being massacred by the painballers. I know people joke around, and that these characters are of differing intelligence levels and ages with disparate priorities and senses of humor and means of dealing with stress and whatnot, but everybody sorta talked like it was all one big joke. Like it was just another lazy day on the porch swing with straw in teeth and feet propped up, just shooting the shit while watching the sun set. I admit that I’ve never personally been stalked by two psychopathic, cannibal rapists with crazy futuristic guns in a lawless post-apocalyptic warzone, but I don’t think I would be cracking dick jokes and worrying about petty jealousies if I were. Well, maybe the dick jokes, but not all the time!
Rating 2/5. I bought it only to see how the story ends but apparently Volume 2 is a lot better than this one.