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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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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 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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on 2 September 2013
I couldn't wait to get started on this one, having waited for a new Margaret Atwood book for what seems like forever, but I do wish I'd paced myself and re-read Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood (the first two parts of the trilogy) just to refresh my memory as to what had gone before. Not that it doesn't work as a stand-alone story - and there's enough material at the front to provide the necessary background for any reader out there who is not familiar with the preceding two books - but I think I should have read the first two again, just to put it into context for myself.

So this last instalment in the trilogy presents the story of Toby, Zeb, the other survivors from "the waterless flood/time of the great chaos" and the Crakers themselves as they continue to adapt to the wider world outside of the Paradice complex. I loved the format of the story - how it is presented in a series of folk/traditional tales told by either Toby or later Blackbeard the Craker boy and how Zeb's back story is linked into this. It was as if these stories were being presented as what would form the Craker's bible of traditional stories about how they came into being. It was as if it was not just presenting closure to the Oryx and Crake trilogy but it was questioning where such stories come from (and their reliability? Especially when the reader considers how much artistic licence Toby and Jimmy take with the relation of their tales). This point is made when Toby wonders to herself whether she had really believed old Pilar's folklore, but then answers herself "People need such stories, Pilar said once, because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void."

As with any Margaret Atwood book, the characters are instantly engaging and the narrative is flawless. When Jimmy-the-Snowman emerged from his coma it was like rediscovering an old friend; he is such a fabulous character.

This concluding part of the trilogy ties things up nicely and brings matters to a tidy conclusion. Long may Margaret Atwood continue writing such wonderful stories to illuminate my (as a reader's) silent void.
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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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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 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 24 August 2013
[Definite spoilers]

Having been absolutely enthralled by Oryx and Crake, and slightly less so by theYear of the Flood, I thought Maddaddam could go one of two ways. I am pleased to say the final instalment is an absolute triumph. The story starts off in a very tense manner with Amanda traumatised, Jimmy in a coma, Toby wondering whether she will ever see Zeb again, and Adam nowhere to be seen. With the dangerous Painballers still lurking in the midst of the apocalyptic world, it is only time before the Madaddamites and the remnants of God's Gardeners must make a decision as to how they are going to survive.
The back story focusses primarily on Zeb and Adam (who we discover early on are in fact "brothers"). Without giving too much away, they are both on the run from the character of Rev (one of Margaret Atwood's finest creations). Rev of the Petroleum church, stands for religious hypocrisy and the general misconduct that goes on in the name of religion. It is through this narrative that we begin to understand the disconnect between Adam and Zeb, when they part of God's Gardeners.
One of the finest aspects of this book is the stories which Toby tells the Crakers. She has effectively taking over the role of Snowman-the-Jimmy, aka Snowman, aka Jimmy. The best part of the book for me has to hands down be the part when Blackbeard discovers writing. This is effectively the legacy of the Madaddam world - a world in which "propagating" ones' own provides a basis for the future.
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on 29 January 2015
I am a real fan of Margaret Atwood. Really enjoyed the first two books in this parallel series. I am not engaging with this one. Sometimes it's very silly. I wonder if a new writer had written this, if it would have got a publisher. I will read to the bitter end, but she should have stopped at book two .
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on 20 August 2015
Forming a good conclusion to the trilogy that began with 'Oryx and Crake', MaddAddam follows the post Dry flood band of people through to the final battle with the Painballers and on...
Inevitably, the build up to the climax is a bit slow- you have to be reminded of past events, and Atwood paints a slow picture, but it is worth stciking at this slower section to the ending of the story. The sketches of the Crakers, Pigoons and other oddities of this post apocalyptic land are well drawn, and the different personalities play out well.
Yes, we find out who Adam one really is, and Toby carries the story through, but any more than that would be plot spoiler. Read it. It's not as good as 'Oryx and Crake' but it does tick a lot of 'well worth it' boxes.
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