Monday Book: Maddaddam


by Margaret Atwood


This book is the third in the trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Even though the previous two books are summarised in the beginning, the story is complicated and reading them is highly recommended.

After a man-made pandemic kills most of Earth’s population, small groups of people struggle to survive by gleaning whatever they can from the devastation. God’s Gardeners are trying to rebuild by avoiding violence and technology and following a green religion, while escaped hardened prisoners (Painballers) are intent on causing more havoc.

There’s also a group of green-eyed Crakers, a gentle humanoid species that was bio-engineered by Crake to be “free from sexual jealousy, greed and clothing” and things that Crake believed had caused human misery and the planet’s degradation. Then there’s the genetically spliced animals including the Pigoons, Wolvogs and Bobkittens.

Atwood claims that she does not include any technologies or biobeings that don’t already exist, but it is a very disquieting world she has constructed. Crude sexual references and the continual threat of violence abound as a handful of humans struggle to survive while the world around them continues to crumble. When their meagre existence is threatened, they form unlikely alliances with the creatures around them.

The characters take turns to give voice to the painful stories of the past that was ruptured so irreparably, as well as narrate the progress that is being made in the present. As the reader wonders whether the humans ruin the Crakers and if they’ll learn anything from the Pigoons, Atwood takes every opportunity to incorporate her biting humour as she takes the reader into a “challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future”.

Lezly Herbert

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