I have to say, leading up to this week, I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood. At first, I found her writing style to be somewhat confusing as the jumpy nature of her narration was slightly difficult to grasp in the beginning, but after about 50 pages I was able to jump right into the story. Much like some of the other books we have read this semester, the author jumps around from character to character. However, unlike all the other books we have read she leans heavily on the use of flashbacks as to allow the reader to get a fuller understanding of the characters. I found her writing style to be interesting, as I personally have never encountered an author who is able to jump from perspective to perspective while shifting time periods, and then effectively weave the stories together. From a literary standpoint, it is quite impressive. While this book did not stand out to me more than The Windup Girl, it is still nearly impossible for the reader to forget the characters and the world that Atwood creates, and in many ways this is the sign of a talented author.
The story mainly follows two women Toby and Ren in a dystopian world where corporate greed has destroyed the environment (thanks Gordon Gecko). Greed is good? Well apparently it is not in Margaret Atwood’s world. I think one of the most powerful aspects of this book is Atwood’s take on corporations. The companies in this book that do disgusting and unspeakable things comically parallel many corporations that we have today. Much like other effective works of science fiction, Atwood is critiquing and describing the world that we live in by simply giving things different names and making it clear to the reader that the story takes place in the future. Much like The Windup Girl, the effectiveness of the book comes from giving the reader just enough detail so that they can create the world in their own mind. Our main characters are members of an environmental cult/movement that correctly predicted an incoming waterless flood. Their preparedness for this plague allows them to be among the few who survive. I found that the book dragged at certain points, but, again, similar to The Windup Girl the part that made even the boring parts interesting was just how established and believable Atwood’s world was.
I really did not expect to like this book, but there is something indescribable about it that seems to stay with you. She supplies the reader with a powerful message, and I think she successfully conveys the selfish manner in which humans live on this planet. I am sure that many would say that she is simply another hippie liberal that loves trees, animals, and the environment, but she does make many eye opening points that in my mind cannot be argued. I definitely connected with the book, and I would certainly recommend it to people.