bonnie’s #CBR5 Review #64: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

I put in a library request for Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam months ago, thinking I would languish on a waiting list. I did not. I currently have The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, and Marisha Pessl’s book Night Film in my possession. I did not time this well. Thankfully, I absolutely devoured The Year of the Flood in a weekend. It was that good. Maybe I’ll read all three in the next two weeks…?

I read the first book in the MaddAddam trilogy, Oryx and Crake, months ago, so I won’t recap it here. It was good. Really, quite excellent. The Year of the Flood takes place in a similar timeline in the same universe, with many of the same characters…from a completely different point-of-view. This time, we get to know Toby and Ren, both members of God’s Gardener’s a cult-adjacent religion, who try to care for the earth and its creatures in a world choked by corporate greed and consumption. Toby does not consider herself a believer but reluctantly moves up the ranks of the Gardeners to become a spiritual leader of sorts. Ren, who is much younger, finds herself at odds in the world, since her mother had initially left her father to join the Gardeners and take up with one of its members, Zeb. On the day of the pandemic that Crake had unleashed in Oryx and Crake, both Toby and Ren struggle to survive the plague and escape to safety, while becoming observers of a shattered and fallen world.

I really enjoyed Oryx and Crake, but this book is far superior (in my opinion). Toby is an awesome lady, doubtful, honest, flawed, but ultimately determined to do what’s best. Her sense of honor is matched by her will to live and ability to think in a crisis. Ren, while much more fragile, is also an interesting and complex narrator, one who intersects with past characters much more closely to create sharp tensions in the trilogy.

As a feminist and a member of a faith community, I cannot recommend this enough. I was challenged, intrigued, stunned, and most of all captivated by such a beautiful, horrifying, and complex text. The women in this narrative transcend the token “strong woman” trope and actually make meaningful inroads in their community. I realize it’s impossible to be a utopic and dystopic text at once, but could it be that Atwood is trying to make a commentary about finding our inner strength in dystopia?

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

Baxlala’s #CBR5 Reviews #16, #17, and #18: Matched trilogy by Ally Condie

MatchedWARNING: This review contains spoilers!

I’m writing about these books together, because the bleh of each book (particularly the second and third) is already blurring together and I only just finished them. I love dystopias (um, fictional ones, though), YA or not, and so was excited to receive this series as a birthday gift a few months ago. On the surface, the Matched series should have been right up my alley. But, you know, this series never really got past the surface. I never felt any sort of connection to any of the characters. I had a hard time buying any of them as actual people whose actions made any sense at all. The characters were telling me how they felt (like ALL THE TIME) and yet…I never really bought it. There’s a completely convoluted love triangle because I guess that’s a prerequisite for YA fiction and yet I didn’t care about which guy the main character was going to end up with. I really didn’t even care if any of the characters died because I figured the response from the other characters would be something like, “So-and-so is dead. I feel sad. I loved so-and-so. You know I loved him because I’m telling you. Again.”

Matched (Book 1)

The premise of Matched is great. Cassia, a 17-year-old girl, lives in Oria, part of the structured world The Society has created. She’s recently been Matched to the boy she will marry who, in a surprising turn of events, just happens to be the boy next door, her best friend, Xander. And yet, a glitch in her Match means she was also Matched with an Aberration named Ky. The problem here is that, because of The Society’s rules, an Aberration cannot be Matched with anyone, meaning (I guess?) they’re destined to die cold and alone, never having known the joy of their Match’s touch.

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The Society, you see, controls everything. They control who gets married, when people have children, and even which songs, poems, and paintings citizens are allowed to view. No one writes anymore, they all type, no one creates, and everyone is sorted into job just as they’re sorted into relationships.

Matched follows Cassia’s struggle with Society’s rules, finding herself drawn to Ky even though she was initially thrilled by be Matched with Xander. Cassia is also dealing with the death of her Grandfather, who is killed when he turns 80, as is the norm for The Society.

Actually, remember The Giver? It’s a lot like The Giver.

Crossed (Book 2)

Crossed picks up where Matched left off. Cassia’s family has been relocated and Cassia is in the Outer Provinces, searching for Ky. I don’t remember what Xander is doing because I don’t care. Ky is on the run, having escaped into The Carving with some friends he picked up at one of the camps.

Eventually Cassia (and her friend, Indie) find Ky. They decide to find The Rising, a rebellion grown out of forbidden poetry or something. Well, Cassia wants to find them and Ky only goes along with it because he’s afraid of losing Cassia. BE YOUR OWN MAN, KY.

The big difference with this book is that each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, but I’m not really sure why that is, other than to confuse the reader, maybe? There were many times when I had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who was speaking because the characters all sort of blended together. Everyone is a cipher, a mold of an actual person that Condie forgot to flesh out. Heroine, Love Interest, Friend, Villain…this is as specific as it gets. But get excited because there’s one more book left!

Reached (Book 3)

I only read this one because A) I wanted to see how the series ended despite not caring about what was going to happen and B) the books are quick reads and I feel like I’ve been reading Game of Thrones for freaking ever with no end in sight and I NEEDED A WIN, YOU GUYS.

Reached is just, I don’t know, there? Like, there’s the rebellion happening, the introduction of The Pilot (who never really seemed like a real person, just some rando who showed up every now and then to throw roadblocks in Cassia’s way), and there’s a Plague, which is released by The Rising to bring down The Society, which soon gets way out of hand (as plagues do) when the virus mutates.

Ky gets sick, of course, because Ky is the story’s whipping boy, spurring Cassia on to find a cure. Xander is there, too, of course, sort of still in love with Cassia but mostly just sad that she’ll never love him back the way she loves Ky. Who cares. Just get polygamy-married, you three, and stop whining.

Anyway. The book ends. Everyone is mostly fine. This series was mostly not fine. I still think the premise is cool but, in the end, wasn’t presented in a unique enough way to be very memorable.

tmoney’s #CBR5 Review #5: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


I’m not one for reincarnation, but I do believe our lives are connected more than we know. This belief, as well as my interest in dystopian literature led me to read Cloud Atlas. I have yet to see the movie, and I am hesitant to, as I don’t know if would live up to my expectations. However, the book is one that will stay with me for a while, and I highly recommend it.
Cloud Atlas is a novel with six interconnected and nested stories. The first is that of a young family man, Adam, traveling home to San Francisco from New Zealand in the 1860’s. His experience is not a pleasant one, and the depictions of slavery (under the guise of missionary work) are rather disheartening. In the book, his is both the first and the last to be told (as each story is split in two). The second is that of Robert, a young musician, with not a penny to his name, finds employment in Belgium before WWII as a composer’s apprentice. I have to be honest and say that I did not pay much attention to this part of the book, as it was slow, and the narrator’s voice was a bit obnoxious. The third story could have been its own novel, as it was compelling, exciting, and made me want to skip the intervening chapters to get to the resolution. It is about a young magazine reporter, Lydia, who is investigating a crime/coverup in the Southern California area that involves a nuclear reactor and a massive government conspiracy.


Read the rest here