I hate advance reader copies. They’re ugly, full of typos, and whenever I’ve gotten one in the past, I’ve ended up reading it after the book came out in its proper form. Often, after it came out in hardcover and even paperback. So, I tend to avoid ARCs. Except when a friend says, “would you like an ARC of the new Margaret Atwood?” And then I’m all in.
Maddaaddam is the third book in Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam trilogy, which began with Oryx and Crake, which I initially disliked, a great deal. It was followed by The Year of the Flood, which I loved, and which cast all events in Oryx and Crake in such a different context probably because it was narrated by two smart, interesting women, as opposed to the emotionally stunted, wilfully obtuse Jimmy, who narrated the first book. I loved Year of the Flood so much I re-read Oryx and Crake, which made much more sense to me with more of hte puzzle shown.
Maddaddam doesn’t even pretend to be a standalone novel. There is a 4-page recap at the beginning of the ARC that summarizes what happened in the previous two books, and from there the reader is plopped right down again this futuristic, mangled Earth and the cast of characters from the past, which expands further in this book. It’s told mostly from Toby, one of the narrators of YotF, and who is now one of my favorite fictional characters, ever. Sometimes it’s in third person, about Toby. Sometimes it’s in first person, being narrated by Toby, and sometimes she’s telling the history of Zeb and finding out how all of his puzzle pieces fit into what went before.
I tore through the books 400 pages in two days. I took unwilling breaks to take care of myself and my family. I stayed up late to finish it, and had tears leaking down my face. This book is full of memorable characters, an epic battle, unlikely allies (which I was sad were given away on the back cover, so if you want to read this, I recommend just plunging in), love, loss, survival tips, and a makes me continue to think long and hard on what the differences are between utopia and dystopia, and the type of potential futures shown by different authors, and how differently male and female authors have handled similar ideas.
After I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, I wondered why so much of dystopic literature, and really, so much of literature generally, was about the father/son relation. I have a masters degree in religion, so there is the obvious answer that it’s a reflection, inborn or learned?, about the human struggle to understand the Father/Son relation. Where is the mother/daughter relation, I wondered after reading Gilead and The Road. Whither is the female, I wondered after A Canticle for Leibowitz and Oryx and Crake.
They are right here, in the three books of the Maddaddam trilogy. I flat-out, full-on loved this book, this universe, and these characters. And I about exploded with geek joy when I found out Atwood is coming to the Twin Cities for a reading series this fall.