Monday, June 22, 2015

It Runs in the Family: Love in the Time of Dystopian Gene Splicing

Through no fault of his own, Macky didn't have a post up in May. But I'm happy to have him back on the blog for June, reviewing the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Please note that this series contains mature/triggering content; more on this is expressed in his trigger warning below.

*TRIGGER WARNING: Series contains small elements of abuse, rape and forced prostitution. Though the scenes are not graphic, they are alluded to without any hint of being implicit. Please exercise caution if these themes are harmful to your emotional and mental health.* 

Series: MaddAddam #1-3
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Publication Date: March 30, 2004 / September 22, 2009 / September 3, 2013
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Kindle e-book


There’s YA post-apocalyptic science fiction, and then there’s good old adult post-apocalyptic science fiction. I grew up having science fiction defined as the exploration of the human condition should the said humans be brought into scientifically impossible situations. On the days I stayed awake in lit class, I vaguely remember my teachers saying something about how it’s not just about aliens and laser guns and space ships and how it was more about answering the question, "What would people do if <insert fictional scientific reality here> were possible?”

In the case of the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood, we’re talking extreme genetics. Kind of like a Gattaca meets Love Actually meets The Walking Dead. It starts right a bit after the world succumbs to some horrible yet-to-be-detailed catastrophe and centers around what few survivors we are given a chance to spy on. There is no YA whimsy or spark here. But something about how this story appeals to my love for “unraveling the end of days” and “weaving the aftermath of Armageddon” just kept me going.

It starts with Snowman, and his relationship with Crake and Oryx. From there, readers will see how the horrible Fibonacci spiral doom that sent the world into full chaos unfolds from the three of them. Mostly you just want to know who the hell Snowman, Oryx and Crake are, and more importantly, how they fit into the end of the world.

I love the way the writing is very Japanese anime/manga style in how it jumps back and forth between present time and well-timed character-driven flashbacks. It’s like this lovely jigsaw puzzle forming as you read, complete with cliffhangers! (And here, a shout out to the New York Public Library’s digital section is appropriate. Awesome work for keeping these books on file!)

Also, speaking of Fibonacci spirals… I personally like how the next book (The Year of the Flood) in the series opens the world up more and allows you a multi-cam, multi-scenario view of the events that lead to everything that happened in Oryx and Crake and magnificently moves the narrative forward.

More characters, more backstory, more of a panoramic view of a pre-apocalyptic world just ripe for Armageddon. By the time you hit MaddAddam, the style and the patterns just hit full throttle and you find yourself caring about more than just good old Snowman.

I don’t usually read these kinds of books. But I’m sorta getting a taste for Margaret Atwood’s writing style. I’d read a case study in tax law if she wrote it. And she writes such powerful narratives driven by such… gritty characters. People can argue about what kind of characters she writes, but as far as I can tell, you can seriously feel that her characters jump out at you somehow. Whether you like them or not, or feel they lack or have too much of anything is beside the point; you’d be too busy wanting to know what happens to them. That was my experience; I was seriously going "THEN WHAT?!"

In my humble opinion, liking the story and characters is a hit or miss. But the writing style and narrative weaving? That’s gotta get some props any day.I’m half geeky and nerdy enough to want to create timelines for the entire trilogy, charting the main events that lead to world’s end and the intertwining of the characters paths. It’s a work of art really, the synchronicity of all these events; a tapestry of lives woven in words and no less from the great Margaret Atwood. *steals away to reread The Blind Assassin*

24 comments:

  1. I believe I told you already how much I love this post but seriously, it's awesome. Science & Faith will be one of my fave band albums forever. And I have to say I'm pretty worried about PS I Still Love You (still haven't read it) because Dead Man Walking is kind of a sad song! I so loveeee that you chose If You Ever Come Back for Geography though. So on point!

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  2. How fun was this post to read?! Loved how you paired each song with a different book, Alexa. I'm a fan of The Script too and I don't think you could have chosen a better song than the one for P.S. I Still Love You. Nicely done!

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  3. I'm so glad you liked that pairing! And yay for being a fellow fan of The Script. They're such great musical artists, and I've loved everything they've released so far.

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  4. SAME. HERE. I just love that album so much and listen to it constantly (even though I love their newer ones too). Hope you read PS I Still Love You soon!

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  5. I'm curious about this author, as I've not yet read anything she's written! I'm hoping I'll enjoy this one, as it comes highly recommended.

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  6. North of Beautiful is one of Rachel's favorites, which is why I'm giving it a shot. In fact, I actually borrowed the book from her! It'll be my first Justina Chen read.

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  7. I KNOW. I always feel like I want to read everything I can but I only have so much time in a day...

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  8. Oh, I'm so glad that you recommend this author! And I will happily let you know when I'm reading Lost Lake, and maybe we can read it together :D

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  9. Oh, I'm so happy to hear this! I'm looking forward to reading it, even though I don't know all that much about it, because it comes highly recommended. Will let you know what I think!

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  10. I am SO happy to hear that you loved More Happy Than Not! I'm a little nervous going into it, because I want to love it, but I'm also excited. And yes, it's a bit thick but I've heard it's a really quick read!

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  11. Duly noted! I can't wait to read Adam's book :D

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  12. WE CAN DO THIS! *cheers you on*

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  13. I know you've already read Uprooted and loved it! Can't wait to read it myself, and hopefully love it as well. And I'm excited about The Royal We!

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  14. So, so, so excited to read it! I'm a little nervous too, with all the hype it's been getting, but it sounds like a very me book.

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  15. I'm very excited about The Royal We! And Rule was so much fun. I need to read the rest of the series!

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  16. It really sounds great AND it's a standalone, which is another point in its favor. I hope you read it, Quinn!

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  17. I just read You Had Me at Hello recently, and it was cute! Very romantic comedy, with a British feel to it.

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  18. I really am excited about Uprooted, and I hope I love it! And The Royal We sounds amazing - I hope we both love it when we get around to reading it.

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  19. WHOA. That's a long wait! But I hope it's your turn soon - The Royal We sounds like such a great summer read.

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  20. I'm excited to read the rest of the series, particularly after loving the first book more than I expected! And yay - I hope you enjoy both books when you get a chance to read them.

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  21. So glad to hear that you'd recommend Lost Lake! I can't wait to try a novel of hers.

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  22. Oh, I'm so glad to hear that you also liked North of Beautiful! I can't wait to read that one, as well as The Royal We.

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  23. Yay, I'm excited about reading all of them!

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