It's a Very, Very MaddAddam World

September 13, 2013 Dystopian, Frightening, Science 38

Salutations Bookworms!

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. NOBODY does a dystopia like Atwood, believe you me. (I mean, have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?!) I have been waiting for what feels like FOREVER for the release of MaddAddamThis book completed Atwood’s epic dystopian trilogy that began with the 2003 release of Oryx and Crake and continued with 2009’s In The Year of the FloodI’ve been desperate to know the fate of humanity for YEARS now!


Atwood is a passionate environmentalist, and the future she paints as a result of environmental catastrophes is disturbing. In Atwood’s version of the future, global warming has taken a serious toll on the planet. Large portions of California and the Eastern Seaboard are underwater and therefore uninhabitable thanks to the melting of the polar ice caps. Science is now able to manufacture actual meat without having to harm any animals; they can grow a chicken breast in isolation. They’ve played around with gene splicing so much, the native species are all jacked up. Atwood doesn’t go into detail about all of the hybrid animals, but her naming of them gives clues as to their origins. There are now sheep who grow human hair and pigs with human brain tissue. Pharmaceuticals have been perverted by giant corporations so that in addition to curing diseases, they also spread them. Every extreme you can imagine has come to fruition, and it’s not pretty.

Our motley cast of characters are born into this reality. People not under the employ of a major corporation are cast out into the dangerous and impoverished pleeblands. New religions emerge that worship petroleum on one end of the spectrum and extreme recycling on the other. (Let’s face it. Handmade sandals fashioned from recycled tires are sexy, y’all.) Criminals are given the option to suspend their prison sentences by opting to fight to the death in an arena, gladiator style. (Painball is no Hunger Games- these aren’t little kids in the field, they’re psychotic murderers. Butchering one’s victims and devouring their kidneys is par for the course.)

plagueThis brave new world is the perfect chaos into which a genius with a God complex can enter to wreak havoc. Our doom fixated genius is a misguided young man named Glenn, though he has taken on the pseudonym “Crake” because he’s all about extinct species. The term “God complex” gets flung around pretty regularly to refer to people who like to control situations, but Crake is the very definition of the term. He was a scientific genius, but instead of sticking to commercial pursuits, he decided to crafted himself a new race. He gene spliced himself a new humanoid species that was meant to “correct” all the foibles that have plagued humans. He pulled a GENESIS, yo. That’s CRAZY! Much like the vengeful God of the Old Testament, Crake has determined that he needs to wipe the slate clean of the existing human race. The apocalyptic flood was unleashed in the form of a lethal genetically modified microbe nestled inside an sexual enhancement pill. Sinners and saints alike perished in Crake’s wrath. The handful of survivors attempt to regroup and figure out how to persevere in their new nightmarish reality.

I could go on and on about how insane Atwood’s world building is or how much I LOVE all the biological oddities she created. The work is intense, poignant, and cautionary. It will make you ponder ethical conundrums you never anticipated. You really, really, REALLY need to read this.

Alright Bookworms. Let’s throw out consequences for a second and take a trip into the land of imagination. If you could create a hybrid animal what two would you smush together?

38 Responses to “It's a Very, Very MaddAddam World”

  1. kristinshafel

    OMG! I listened to Oryx and Crake this summer on audio and immediately ordered paper copies of all three. I canNOT WAIT to get into Year of the Flood and MaddAddam! I do feel obligated to finish what I’m halfway through at the moment, though… 🙂

  2. Charleen

    So there’s this cartoon called Avatar: The Last Airbender that my husband introduced me to a couple years ago… it wasn’t on when we were kids and I was sort of skeptical about it at first, but it’s really a fantastic show.

    Anyway… all of the animals in their world are hybrid animals… turtle-ducks, badger-frogs, moose-lions, and so on.

    So there’s this king who has, as a very exotic pet… a bear. Which prompts the following discussion among the kids:

    Katara: The King is having a party at the palace tonight for his pet bear.
    Aang: You mean Platypus-Bear?
    Katara: No, it just says “Bear.”
    Sokka: Certainly you mean his pet Skunk-Bear.
    Toph: Or his Armadillo-Bear.
    Aang: Gopher-Bear?
    Katara: Just… “Bear.”
    Toph: This place is weird.

      • Jennine G.

        Sometimes you can get the signed copy on their website too. If you get B&N’s emails, they will sometimes tell you ahead when signed copies are available. I have Bill Bryson and Wally Lamb’s new ones coming in October. They’re online, so I just had my B&N people reserve one to be sent to their store (no s&h if it goes to their store and I can use my educator’s discount)!

  3. Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    I freaking loved Oryx & Crake and Year of the Flood… I listened to them back to back on audio earlier this year and have been so excited for MaddAddam to release. I actually got an e-arc but… I wanted to listen to the 3rd one too. I just bought a copy from audible and have started it already and… Atwood is truly amazing.
    hahaha I have no idea what hybrid animal I would create. I think she already came up with the good ones. I mean.. pigoon? rakunk? That’s genius right there.

  4. Samantha

    I may have to bump this trilogy up my list. I thought my next Margaret Atwood would be “The Robber Bride”, but maybe I’ll read this one first.

  5. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    I read the Handmaid’s Tale in high school and for some reason thought that Atwood was a long gone author. Then, two years ago my mother-in-law gave me several more of her books. I LOVE her! Alias Grace is my favorite, and I cannot wait to read the newest.

  6. Claire (BWB)

    I need to read this. I haven’t yet because I’ve felt like reading light and fluffy Dystopians and I know this one will be a doozey. she’s such a brilliant heavy writer, but urgh, I must build myself up for this

    • Words for Worms

      Sure, Atwood’s dystopias are a bit heavier than your standard YA dystopia, but it’s nothing to need to work up to. I think Atwood’s dystopias read the easiest of all her novels. Maybe it’s just because I get so sucked into the stories, but I think you could take one on cold.

  7. Sarah Says Read

    I read Oryx & Crake a few years ago and didn’t love it, but I DID enjoy how weird and crazy the world was. I really should finish the trilogy.

    You know, I recently saw an article that said some animal that looks like a cross between a cat and teddy bear had been discovered, and that is just the most adorable thing I can think of. So that.

  8. Mandy Boles (@WellReadWife)

    Love this post Katie!

    I just finished reading Oryx and Crake this week. Can we talk about the description of the chicken that produces the “nubbins”? OMG, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat chicken breast again! Also, can we talk about the word nubbins? Is Margaret Atwood a Friends fan? (That’s what Chandler called his third nipple: a nubbin.) I loved Oryx and Crake so much though. Every chapter had some crazy development like the nubbin or the pigoons or the Crakes eating poo (lol).

    I’m about 100 pages along in The Year of The Flood right now. I don’t like it as well as I did Oryx and Crake so far. It’s so dogmatic… I hope MaddAddam brings back the insanity!

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