bonnie’s #CBR5 Review #65: MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

Thanks to my library’s awesome and efficient Inter-Library Loan system, I ended up with a hot-off-the-press copy of the conclusion to Margaret Atwood’s stunning MaddAddam trilogy last week. I just finished reading it today. Oh, my heart.

I won’t summarize Oryx and Crake or the sequel The Year of the Flood here, because I’ve already recapped them in the Cannonball Read. But read them first. Atwood creates a world that is simultaneously a small microcosmic community and a vast universe, one that shrinks and expands rapidly with its colorful array of characters and scenes in a world that has been ravaged by a plague. She builds the plot with each novel, so that threads of one narrative become entangled with its successive sequel and finally come together in the very end. Toby is, rightfully, a major focus of the novel, as she becomes entwined with the mysterious and highly charismatic Zeb. Through the eyes of Toby, we get closer to the human-like Crakers and to Zeb, whose past is colorful, dangerous, and mysteriously linked to Adam One, leader of the God’s Gardeners. Zeb’s relationship to Adam One is the pivotal point of this book, as it forms the backstory for the entire trilogy, and becomes a bedtime story for the Crakers in ways that are inventive and hilarious.

Atwood ties off many loose ends and leaves a conclusion that is ultimately satisfying and bittersweet, incorporating the hope/despair/pain/beauty of life begun anew in the developing post-”Flood” world on earth. It was neither overly sentimental nor cynical, striking the right balance of optimism and realism. I was saddened to leave behind the MaddAddamites/God’s Gardeners/Crakers that became more than just plot points but people in whom I could sink major interest. I’d definitely mark this as my favorite in the trilogy, since it builds on so many plot points, characters, philosophies, and ideas from the others to create something informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining.

Atwood has many strengths as a writer: luminous prose, masterful storytelling techniques, and a story that matters. The MaddAddam trilogy matters because it could become our earth. It matters because it’s a great story that longs to be told. It matters because it shows us (like many a great dystopic novel before it) how to be ourselves in a world that is falling apart around us. I won’t say anymore, for risk of making this book seem maudlin. It’s not. Read it. You will not regret it.

You can also read this review on my personal blog, The Universe Disturbed.

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