I was up at 7:30 this morning because my body is not quite accepting that it’s able to sleep in now that we are on Winter Break.
Instead of trying to force myself back to sleep (it rarely works, anyway), I decided to get up and have some tea while reading MaddAddam.
I have been milking this book, the third in the series of the same name by Margaret Atwood. I read Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood a bit too faced, over a couple of weeks a few summers ago, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of MaddAddam. Even though I got it back in September when it came out, I didn’t get to read it until now.
So I tried to take it slow and really savor the post-Waterless Flood world. That worked, until today.
It wasn’t long before I realized I had read 100 pages just this morning. Then, a bit later I realized I had less than 100 left.
So, five hours and over 200 pages later, I’ve finished MaddAddam.
If you aren’t familiar with it, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.
I’m not sure that this teaser is the best it could be. MaddAddam gives us much of the history behind MaddAddam, the game where Crake got most of the people to help him engineer the Crakers, the somewhat creepy humanoid species that actually grew on me throughout this novel. We get the story mostly through Toby’s eyes, who hears it from Zeb. This story is both his and his brother’s biographies, the actions that really set into motion the waterless flood in which Crake cleared the chaos for the Crakers, and the mythical origins of the Crakers.
Click below to read on, but be aware that there may be *spoilers*
Although there are many characters trying to survive in the desolate world–and all of them are finally together at the Cobb House–there are three main personalities in MaddAddam: Toby, Zeb, and Blackbeard, a young Craker boy who seems to latch onto to Toby.
It’s Zeb’s past that reveals the history of the MaddAddamites, the majority of whom were “recruited” to help develop the Crakers. So the plot of the novel is part the story of protecting themselves against the Painballers in the present and part Zeb’s past as a rebellious son on the run.
There are a lot of things that I really like about this novel, but for me one of the biggest parts was watching Blackbeard develop through his interactions with Toby. He seems like an innocent yet always-willing-to-help child and grows into someone who must help save the day and take on new roles in his own people. The first time Toby offers him Snowman-the-Jimmy’s red hat, Blackbeard has a real meltdown. So when the voice shifts toward the end and it becomes clear that Blackbeard is wearing the hat to tell the Crakers the Story of the Battle, I felt a little overwhelmed by my emotions. He quickly became one of my favorite characters, and I really enjoyed seeing that development and how he grows into a Craker man.
I also really liked that this book is less about the ultimate fall of society and focuses instead on how the people that remain are trying to build their futures. Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood both focused on their lives before and how the waterless flood happened/how Crake cleared the chaos for the Crakers. There was more of a focus on the dystopian, corporatized society. In MaddAddam, the characters are thinking less about the past (except Zeb, who tells Toby about Adam One and really how many of the events in both of their lives were set in motion) and more about the getting by on a daily basis.
This novel is one of rebuilding from catastrophe, whether that means thinking about copulating to continue their species or making pacts with a very unlikely ally in order to get rid of the Painballers.You do get to see some new/different perspectives on events we’ve already heard about, but in general I feel like this story focused more on how they could possible move forward–and who would be there in the future to hear their stories of the past.
Overall, I really enjoyed MaddAddam and I would definitely recommend it (and the series) to fans of dystopian/speculative fiction. I think you could start with either Oryx and Crake or Year of the Flood, but be sure to read both of them before you pick up MaddAddam.