Friday, October 08, 2010

Reader's Diary #654- Margaret Atwood: Year of the Flood

I may have crossed the line from cynicism to apathy. Whatever.

It was my past cynical side that ranked The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake as my two favourite Margaret Atwood books of all time. "I like all Atwood novels," I used to say, "but dystopian lit is her real strength."

With Year of the Flood I may have to change that opinion. It's easily my least favourite of all the Atwood I've read. Unfocused and self-indulgent, I felt as if Atwood spent the first 200 pages simply surfing through some news channels and satirizing every waking second. Silly jargon and pointless "hymns," and the constant flipping back and forth through 25 years, made it near impossible for me to care about the characters once she finally settled into a story. I was too disoriented and annoyed to care.

Wait a second. I'm showing way too much emotion for an apathetic person. This is going to take some getting used to. What I meant to say was, meh.


Carina said...

Definitely not my favourite. I read it immediately after finishing Oryx and Crake, so it was repetitive in some ways and yet worked better in some ways than if I had taken a break in between.

John Mutford said...

Carina: As I said, I enjoyed Oryx and Crake a lot. I remember that much. However, I don't remember many details, so it didn't help me with Year of the Flood. I imagine reading them one after the other might help. I read over at Raidergirl's blog that the two may be part of a trilogy-- which the ending of Year of the Flood would certain suggest.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Atwood is working on the third one. However, I gather from an interview I've seen on YouTube (you can find it on the Toronto library channel) that the third one will run in a parallel time and not necessarily follow from the ending of TYOF. it will again adopt a different perspective is what I understood.
I actually prefered TYOF to oryx and Crake. For the third one, I think I'll rea the three in a row!

raidergirl3 said...

I must be the only person who liked the hymns. I usually brush right over poems in stories, but this was one book where I actually read (in my head, sang) the hymns. Sure, they were simple, but what does that say about the group, and how they viewed their members?
I'm still leery of Oryx and Crake, as I've heard The Year of the Flood was the more optimistic, less dark of the books.

It's always sad to realize that an author you thought you really liked, you really don't. That happened to me with Oscar Wilde.

John Mutford said...

Emeire: Yet another parallel time? Sheesh!

Raidergirl: While I like songs and poetry, I haven't been a fan of their interjections into novels. I loved the Lord of the Rings books, I love Roald Dahl books, but I didn't like their songs either.

It's not that sad for me yet. I haven't decided that I no longer like Atwood's writing. It is possible, I suppose, that I've changed and who I am now no longer appreciates her style. However, I'm more inclined to say that I simply don't like this particular book. I can be a fan without liking everything she's written. I've never, for instance, liked her children's books.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I, on the other hand, very much enjoyed this book. It had the fascinating post-apocalyptic premise of Oryx and Crake, but I found it to be even more accessible, making the storyline move along more quickly.

Suzanne said...

I felt "meh" about this one and Oryx and Crake. I don't know if I'm going to attempt the third one should it be published.

Bernadette said...

I just listened to this one for the Canadian Book Challenge and your meh sums up my reaction perfectly (though instead of saying that in my review I rambled on nearly as long as Atwood herself). Be grateful you didn't listen to the audio version - the pointless hymns were put to crappy music and sung. Excruciating.