First of all, it should be said that this book is a follow up to Atwood's previous novel 'Oryx and Crake'. Howvever, this book could be enjoyed without reading 'Oryx and Crake' as it's focus is on other characters. Jimmy, Crake (here as Glenn)and a few other characters do feature in this book in lesser roles, but are not the focus. The revlelations at the end of 'Oryx and Crake' would be spoiled if you read this book first. Therefore I would suggest first reading 'Oryx and Crake'.
This is a very solid book that takes our focus to the pleeblands of Atwood's dystopian future world. The 'God's Gardener's' are a cult working against the pollution and over-use of the world's resources while awaiting the great 'waterless flood' that will engulf the world's human population.
Instead of following a single character, Atwood chooses to flip between two members of the cult, Toby and Ren. The story is always pushed forward, however, events are told from one character's perspective or the other. It's a strategy that works quite well and considering how 'Oryx and Crake' was written from a male character's perspective, it's quite welcome to have female perspectives. Atwood, as always, is able to deliver solid female characters that are believable and easy to relate to despite the bizare world she has created around them.
The story is written in parallel to the events of 'Oryx and Crake' and ends not too long after where that book left off. Since the characters are linked in quite strange and unexpected ways to the characters of 'Oryx and Crake', expect to see quite a few of your favourites from that book popping up here as well.
One aspect that I enjoyed less were the frequent sermons given by the 'God's Gardeners' leader, Adam One. These were given at the beginning of each new section of the book and explained the cult's festivals and many many saints giving Atwood the chance to throw in a few 'tongue-in-cheek' references and inject some humour. However, I found them a bit dull and found myself racing through them in order to get back to the story.
If you wanted to know just what happened to Jimmy in the closing paragraph of 'Oryx and Crake' you will be pleasantly surprised by this book. And since Jimmy pops in and out of this story as well, we get to see him from another perspective, that of Ren, the scorned ex-grilfriend!
The book gives the impression that this is not the end of Atwood's dystopia. Atwood has extended the number of characters at her disposal and another book would be quite welcome. I would certainly love to read some more!
While this book is not as far reaching as 'Oryx and Crake' had been, it is still a very good story and a very enjoyable novel. I certainly wasn't able to book the book down. If you didn't enjoy 'Oryx and Crake', perhaps you should give this one a miss, however, if you had an interest in it and want to read on this is a very welcome sequel (of sorts).