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Library Journal Review
This is the final installment in Atwood's epic trilogy (After Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood) chronicling a postapocalyptic world in which a human-made plague has wiped out most of civilization, leaving behind a small group of human survivors and a clan of genetically engineered semi-humans called the Crakers. While familiarity with the preceding books will magnify the pleasures of this one, it isn't strictly necessary, as readers are quickly brought up to speed. The theme of storytelling is central: what it means and why it matters and its ethical and philosophical implications. In typical Atwood style, all of this is grounded in vivid descriptions of this new physical world and underlined by her unique brand of brutal humor. In spite of the dark subject matter, one can't help but take delight in -Atwood's creation. Appropriately, this is both a caution against and a praise for our human desire to leave our mark on the world we see as ours. Bernadette Dunn and Bob Walter bring convincing grit to Toby and Zeb, the book's compelling central characters. Robbie Daymond comes in late in the audiobook as the young Craker Blackbeard, adding a satisfyingly rueful note to the final chapters. -Verdict Essential listening for fans of speculative fiction and longtime fans of Atwood, but even readers who fall into neither category should find this a compelling odyssey, well suited to audio. ["Certainly of great interest to Atwood fans...and for fans of dystopian/postapocalyptic fiction generally, this finale is a gripping read," concurred the review of the Nan A. Talese: Doubleday hc, LJ 8/13.-Ed.]-Heather Malcolm, Bow, WA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
The final entry in Atwood's brilliant MaddAddam trilogy roils with spectacular and furious satire. The novel begins where Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood end, just after most of the human species has been eradicated by a man-made plague. The early books explore a world of terrifying corporate tyranny, horrifying brutality, and the relentless rape of women and the planet. In Oryx and Crake, the pandemic leaves wounded protagonist Jimmy to watch over the Crakers, a humanoid species bioengineered to replace humankind by the man responsible for unleashing the plague. In The Year of the Flood, MaddAddamites wield science to terrorize corporate villains while God's Gardeners use prayer and devotion to the Earth to prepare for the approaching cataclysm. Toby, a God's Gardener and key character in the second book, narrates the third installment, in which a few survivors, including MaddAddamites, God's Gardeners, Jimmy, and the Crakers, navigate a postapocalyptic world. Toby is reunited with Zeb, her MaddAddamite romantic interest in Year of the Flood, and the two become leaders and defenders of their new community. The survivors are a traumatized, cynical group with harshly tested self-preservation skills, but they have the capacity for love and self-sacrifice, which in a simpler story would signal hope for the future of humankind. However, Atwood dramatizes the importance of all life so convincingly that readers will hesitate to assume that the perpetuation of a species as destructive as man is the novel's central concern. With childlike stubbornness, even the peaceful Crakers demand mythology and insist on deifying people whose motives they can't understand. Other species genetically engineered for exploitation by now-extinct corporations roam the new frontier; some are hostile to man, including the pigoons-a powerful and uniquely perceptive source of bacon and menace. Threatening humans, Crakers, and pigoons are Painballers-former prisoners dehumanized in grotesque life-or-death battles. The Crakers cannot fight, the bloodthirsty Painballers will not yield, and the humans are outnumbered by the pigoons. Happily, Atwood has more surprises in store. Her vision is as affirming as it is cautionary, and the conclusion of this remarkable trilogy leaves us not with a sense of despair at mankind's failings but with a sense of awe at humanity's barely explored potential to evolve. Agent: Vivienne Schuster, Curtis Brown Literary Agency (U.K.). (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Ten years after Oryx & Crake (2003) rocked readers the world over, Atwood brings her cunning, impish, and bracing speculative trilogy following The Year of the Flood (2009) to a gritty, stirring, and resonant conclusion. In the wreckage of a maniacal bioengineering empire, Toby, a can-do gal and a key member of the once thriving God's Gardeners, a peaceful green resistance group, reconnects with her great unrequited love, Zeb, of the MaddAddamite bioterrorists. All tactical differences evaporate in the wake of the apocalyptic pandemic as their small band of survivors fights off fiendishly violent Painballers and marauding part-pig, part-human pigoons. The bioengineered Crakers purring, kudzu-eating, sexually rambunctious, story-demanding quasihumans worship Jimmy, whom they call Snowman. When he falls ill, Toby steps up. Her pseudoreligious attempts to explain life to the Crakers are hilarious and poignant, compared to Zeb's shocking and riveting stories about his father, the malevolent head of the Church of PetrOleum, and what turned Zeb into MaddAddam. Atwood is ascendant, from her resilient characters to the feverishly suspenseful plot involving battles, spying, cyberhacking, murder, and sexual tension. Most resounding is Atwood's vibrant creation of a scientifically plausible, regenerating, and evolving world driven not simply by the reproductive imperative but also by a cell-deep need for stories. The coruscating finale in an ingenious, cautionary trilogy of hubris, fortitude, wisdom, love, and life's grand obstinacy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Atwood will tour the country and appear on major broadcast and social media to exuberantly promote the extraordinary closing novel in her best-selling trilogy.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Atwood closes her post-apocalyptic trilogy (Oryx and Crake, 2003; The Year of the Flood, 2009) with a study of a small camp of survivors, redolent with suggestions about how new-world mythologies are made. The main narrator, Toby, is a gatherer of strays at MaddAddam, an enclave of survivors of the previous years' plague and environmental collapse. Amanda was tormented by vicious "Painballers"; Snowman, the hero of Oryx and Crake, is recovering from a grotesque foot wound; and a small tribe of "Crakers," genetically engineered humanoids, are on site as well. Atwood's story moves in two directions. Looking backward, Toby's love, Zeb, recalls the history of the scientists who set this odd new world in motion while greedy evangelists like his father clung to rapidly depleting oil and cash reserves. Looking forward, the MaddAddamites must police the compound for Painballers out for revenge. As with many post-apocalyptic tales, the past is much more interesting than the present: Zeb's story is a cross sections of end-times North America, from Grand Guignol entertainments to pharmaceutical horrors, and Atwood weaves in some off-the-shelf contempt for casual sexism, consumerism and god-playing. In comparison, the closing confrontation between the MaddAddamites and Painballers is thin, though the alliances are provocative: The Crakers partner with large, genetically engineered pigs--pigoons--to help the surviving humans who unnaturally made them. In numerous interludes, Toby attempts to explain this world to the Crakers, and their dialogue, rife with miscommunications, is at once comic and strongly biblical in tone. Societies invent origin stories, Atwood suggests, by stripping off nuance for simplicity's sake. But Atwood herself has taken care to layer this story with plenty of detail--and, like most post-apocalyptic novelists, closes out the story with just a touch of optimism. By no means her finest work, but Atwood remains an expert thinker about human foibles and how they might play out on a grand scale.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.