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on 28 December 2013
I'm a big fan of Margaret Atwood. he quality of her prose, her characters, and her imagination is such that she writes some of the few realistic, contemporary tales that I'm happy to read, but I think she's at her best when she's writing full-blown science-fiction with a literary edge. While the Handmaid's Tale is probably the best known example of this, I actually prefer Oryx and Crake and its sequel, the Year of the Floor. The series presents one of the most intriguing and well-developed futuristic dystopias I've ever come across, combined with an interesting plot set both before and after the plague deliberately designed to wipe out humanity and replace it with a race of genetically modified perfect beings.

Oryx and Crake dealt with the upper-echelons of society and the scientific genius who created the plague and the new humans, while Year of the Flood told the interlocking story of the underclass and the God's Gardeners environmentalist cult. The two books worked well together to fill in each other's blanks, give various different perspectives on the world and the plot, and create a fully rounded universe. I was therefore unsure what else this third book could add.

As with the earlier books, MaddAddam presents both a linear narrative of life after the "Waterless Flood" for the handful of survivors, and flashbacks to life in the pre-plague world of genetic engineering, stark class divides and armed corporations.

The "modern-day" sections focus on Toby, who is holed up with a combination of God's Gardeners, former MaddAddam affiliates, a (mostly unconscious) Jimmy from the first book, and a large group of Crakers, the new humans, to whom she tells selective stories of the past as a sort of creation myth. The focus is on the story-telling sessions, on the group defending themselves against Painballers and the world's strange man-made animals, (though there is very little action), and on Toby's relationship with Zeb. The storytelling concept and the development of the Crakers was interesting, but otherwise, these sections, while redeemed by Atwood's writing skills and characterisation, were ultimately quite dull.

The storytelling sessions and Toby's diary, which ultimately become a sort of Bible, are well done, playing with ideas of folklore, origin stories and the development of a shared culture. Though this premise was intriguing, I ultimately felt it was a little laboured and overdone. Constant Craker interruptions and misunderstandings of Toby's stories became trying when I just wanted to immerse myself in the tale, and the sections told by the Crakers felt a little twee. Cloud Atlas did a similar thing much more succinctly and subtly, by showing how one character's police interview became a religious text in the future. Still, I'm a firm believer that there shouldn't be a solid divide between literary and genre fiction, so it's refreshing to see such complex ideas being explored in this sort of story.

The best parts of the book were the flashbacks. The dystopian world is so well developed that it's fascinating to spend time there. That said, I didn't feel that these sections, focussed on Zeb and Adam One this time, added much to what readers have seen in earlier books. Zeb has lots of adventures, but doesn't really seem to do much. And while it's heavily implied that Adam is heavily embroiled in various plots, I was no clearer on his actual role in events by the end.

In essence, I don't think this book needed to be written in order to make this a complete series, and I don't think it's as good as its predecessors. That said, the writing, the imagination on display and the fascinating world still make it a pleasure to read, and I raced through it, complex ideas about storytelling and exciting tales of fights with mutant bears alike. I'd definitely recommend to fans of the author and the series, and if you haven't read the earlier books yet, do so now. If you have, a quick re-read may be in order - at times I struggled to remember the details of earlier plots and it would be interesting to see how they all merge together.
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on 25 March 2014
Maddaddam is the third in Atwood's near future apocalypse series began in Oryx And Crake and continued in The Year Of The Flood. While it was remarkably enjoyable to return to Atwoods future and to catch up again with familiar characters, Maddaddam is somewhat of a let-down when compared to its predecessors and should certainly not be approached as the first read if you are new to Atwood.

So if Oryx and Crake is the masterpiece, the creation and realisation of (yet another) dystopian future and Year of the Flood essential and riveting padding exploring the surrounding characters to those in O&C, then Maddaddam is an epilogue, a brief round up of loose threads. In fact Maddaddam reads almost as prologue to a presumed far future fourth novel. Little happens, seeds are sown that makes me think revisiting this world in 100 or 500 years time would be far more enjoyable than simply continuing in almost linear fashion the story of Year Of The Flood. The stories of Zeb and Adam still leave a lot of holes. Zeb's incredible back story is skimmed over almost casually as a lovers rite of bonding rather than dramatic event. And Adam's holier than holy creation and exploitation of God's Gardeners is barely examined.

That said i did enjoy Maddaddam. Toby is an insecure but kind hearted heroine and the Crakers as confusing and innocent as always. Their rites, the Pigoons and the gradual reclamation of normality are what drive this novel rather than anything peculiarly dramatic. Both O&C and YotF had the world ending plague as dramatic impetus but Maddaddam is more insular and as such it's problems a whole lot less seismic.

An interesting but unnecessary third act.
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on 22 February 2014
I loved the first 2 books and couldn't wait for the last one to finish it all off. I was a little disappointed. I don't quite know what I expected from this book. Some sort of twist or something, but not very much really happens. It's beautifully written and takes you right back to the world created in Oryx and Crake and The Flood but I got to the end of it and just felt a bit "meh" about it.
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Maddaddam is the final book in the Maddaddam trilogy. (Oryx and Crake is the first, The Year of the Flood is the second.) You can read this final book without having read the previous books, but you'll miss out on a lot of the nuances and reveals.

And there's a whole lot of reveals here. Every why? and who? from the first two books is dealt with, all the gaps are filled in. But it's all in context. Don't expect "Crake did X because Y". The answers are all there, and they're all clear, but they develop as stories are told. There are moments when the smallest comment explains giant actions.

The book, so therefore the trilogy, does have a 'proper' ending. There are conclusions to events. But this is Margaret Atwood, so a conclusion was never going to be "and they all woke up and realised it was all a dream". But it's a more powerful conclusion if you've read the previous two books.

It's been said that Oryx and Crake was the masculine, The Year of the Flood the feminine, and Maddaddam the combination of the two. I could agree with that. But I do think that, like many things, the age and life experience of the reader does come into play with this final book. I don't think reader age affects enjoyment of this book, but it would affect empathy. I had an intense reaction of the end of this book, and Googling around showed I wasn't alone in that experience. Essentially, over 35s found the ending intense, under 35s thought it was boring. But that is a generalisation.

The book is also every funny. It's a dry humour, but for me it was genuinely laugh out loud funny in places. But again, I suspect it's a life experience/empathy thing.

I'd put this final Maddaddam book up there with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, replacing 'magical realism' for 'speculative fiction'.
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on 6 May 2014
The first book is awesome and the second book is great; this one is very disappointing. Instead of satisfying the reader's expectations about the future, this book is full of tedious backstories that add very little to any ongoing narrative.

I wanted to know about the survivors and how they would cope with the changed world, the crakers and how they would adapt and evolve - the ways in which the world would actually be improved by the waterless flood - and the eye-opening impact of that knowledge. These issues are addressed only in a very perfunctory manner and, instead, the reader gets to learn all about events that happened to Zeb when he was a child - and I really can't imagine anyone particularly cares.

Great characters like Snowman, Amanda and Adam are almost completely wasted in, respectively, insanity, depression and obscurity. Their continuing stories are interspersed throughout the book like afterthoughts and, instead, we must suffer an inane painballer story arc and minute detail concerning the profoundly unappealing Zeb.

The last few pages contain the subject matter that should have made up the entire book. For reasons unknown, Margaret Attwood decided to develop second-rate characters and focus primarily on the past and thus managed to short-circuit the whole trilogy.
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on 3 October 2013
I ama huge fan of the first two books in the trilogy and was eagerly awaiting the third installment.

I found it really disappointing, Zeb is the least interesting of the characters and the reality surrounding the characters in the ruined world would have been far more interesting that the contstant flashbacks to a sideline character.
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on 10 December 2013
I have been reading Margaret Atwood for years. I loved Oryx & Crake, was less keen on Year of the Flood but thought I'd finish off the trilogy. I'm about half way through & don't know if I'll make it to the end. I agree with another reviewer I have little interest in Zeb & actually skipped through some of his history. The whole story so far is not engaging me & I am very disappointed in the book.
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on 8 December 2013
I enjoyed the trilogy, but had to go back and read the first one again after 10 years. I practically gobbled the books up wanting to know what happened to the characters, also fascinated by Atwood amazing and clever imagination - could some of this really happen to our world? Raised many questions and thoughts for me - as did her previous books. I look forward to her next books.
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I don't know how readers of the first two volumes can be disappointed with this - it's a brilliant, touching round-up to the story, which returns the focus to the personal and gives Toby a deserved centre-stage position.

Under the surface, Atwood engages with themes of story-telling, language and literature, which go well beyond the characters' narratives, saying something much deeper about the nature of culture and civilisation. You can enjoy the story for what it is, or enjoy what the author has to say about the written word and how memes arise and spread (a thread running through The Year of the Flood too).

As with the other two books, there's continuity and a scarily realistic attention to detail, as Atwood holds up a mirror to the nastier sides of contemporary humans. A fitting end to a truly superb trilogy.
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on 20 April 2015
Disappointing conclusion to the trilogy which aims to the move the narrative from the first two parts that described the onset and initial stages of the apocalypse to the attempts to survive beyond it. Although it has some beautifully written and vividly descriptive passages, the plot is weak, the characterisation feels thin and the final showdown between the heroes and villains felt pathetic in comparison to the epic scope of the previous books. Nothing in this novel seemed to add to or expand my understanding of the world that had been created in the first two and there were times when it felt more like reading fan-fiction - with its elaborate and almost too neatly tied together back-stories about favourite characters - than an integral part of a narrative that had been a darkly satirical and an insightful morality tale.
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