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MADDADDAM is the last in the Oryx and Crake trilogy.

It is set during the year following the “waterless flood”, the disease engineered by Crake to wipe out humanity. The flood left behind isolated human groups and individuals that begin to find each other. Not all of them are as ‘good’ as the few surviving God’s Gardeners. The ‘ungood’ are a trio of ‘Painballers’ - killer criminals who survived the ultimate penalty of the justice system.

The most important group of survivors are the Crakers, the humanlike beings engineered by Crake to replace the human race. Unfortunately, the Crakers are ill-equipped to handle evil, having been created without any understanding of wrongness and without fear. They are - at least for now - naked, vegetarian, having an unusual mating habit, a natural insect repellent, and a unique vocal structure that allows them to purr (for healing purposes) and to sing. They can also speak.

This novel gathers together all the separate threads from ‘Oryx and Crake’ and ‘The Year of the Flood’. The technique for this is storytelling, as in the stories told by Toby, a God’s Gardener, to the Crakers, after an incident that draws the two groups together for mutual support. As they learn to cooperate in a rapidly disintegrating environment, they soon realise that they cannot continue much longer without assistance. The Painballers are an approaching threat. With the telepathic, interpretive skills of the Crakers, Pigoons (a species created by splicing human intelligence into pigs brains) become a cooperating partner.

The storytelling of Toby (a middle-aged woman) becomes less prominent as the action intervenes. As a technique it could have been boring but Atwood writes it in a unique way, so effective that from it we learn a great deal about the Crakers without them having to utter a word. An example of the beginning of a Toby story:

I have put on the red hat of Snowman. I have eaten the fish. I have listened to the shiny thing. Now I will tell the story of the birth of Zeb.
    You don’t have to sing.
    Zeb did not come from Crake, not like Snowman. And he wasn’t made by Oryx, not like the rabbits. ... He grew in a bone cave, just like you and came out of a bone tunnel, just like you.
    Because underneath our clothing skins we are the same as you. Almost the same.
    No, we do not turn blue. Though we might smell blue sometimes. But our bone cave is the same.
    I don’t think we need to discuss blue penises right now.
    I know they are bigger. Thank you for pointing that out.
    Yes, we do have breasts, the women do.
    Yes, two.
    Yes, on the front.
    No. I will not show them to you right now.
    Because this story is not about breasts. This story is about Zeb.
    You don’t have to sing.



MaddAddam is a fitting finale to this trilogy. Atwood’s imagination remains at peak level to the conclusion. Her similes continue to astound. Her sense of colour continues to enhance our imagination. Her humour and wit remain unabated. Her predictions of what is to come - what is almost upon us - are as horrifyingly plausible as ever.

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  • 11 months later...

Excellent Review, Ting! Not much to add to that! This was my favorite of the three, primarily because of the way she told Zeb's stories. Very creative use of language! And Toby was just a fantastic character. Such a real, breathing human being who was, to my eyes, the hero of the trilogy.

I wish I knew for sure what Atwood was implying about the ability of the Crakers to communicate with the Pigoons. Was this an ability Crake gave them, or something that occurred spontaneously because of their lack of an aggressive nature.

I still wonder why Crake killed Oryx, and did it in front of Jimmy

I also wonder if Adam either knew that Crake would, or even encouraged him to, instigate the destruction of human kind. It had occurred to me already, but Adam's manipulation of the situation that led to the death of Rev, and his orchestration of the cover-up showed a much darker side to Adam, which, combined with his fanaticism, could have led to that ultimate act of zealotry.

 

Really great trip of books!!!

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