Year of the Flood: Climate change hidden inside a compelling story

For a sequel, The Year of the Flood stands on its own surprisingly well. Full of interesting characters, engaging plots, and of course climate issues, it was a great read. The story centers around two members of a vegetarian cult known as God’s Gardeners, Ren and Toby. Both women survive a deadly virus engineered to replace humans with a new race of immortal people.

The book is, at its core, a cli-fi book, though it wisely focuses more on its engaging plot and great characters. The message still gets across. The God’s Gardeners, who bring life into the world and sustain it, are the heroes. The corporations, who produce artificial things and fight to keep profits coming at the expense of other people, are the villains. This is clearly an echo of our society today, as companies manipulate legislation in order to keep destroying our planet.

I thought this book had some great things to say about faith and family, as well. The dedication of the Gardeners to each other, especially at the end as they come together to support each other even after being separated for so long, helped us to see their feelings of connection to each other. Even those that didn’t believe in Adam One’s teachings found solace in them in the end. I thought it put a great message across about how humans use both religion and family as support in times of great tragedy. 

This book made me really wish I had read Oryx and Crake first. I felt as though there were important bits of plot that I missed out on due to skipping the book. I wished I knew more about Glenn and Jimmy, and their motivations to do the things they did. While I appreciated the glimpse we got of them through the memories of Ren, I felt as if there was more I needed to know about them, particularly Glenn and his thoughts leading up to his decision to wipe out humankind. I also feel as though pairing this book with Oryx and Crake might help to highlight the class issues that are so prevalent in climate change fiction. The perspectives of the rich and the poor juxtaposed could really show the differences in suffering and privilege. We got a little of that difference in this book, as we got to see the results of Glenn’s playing god from the eyes of the people it hurt the most.

Overall, I thought the book was great. It had great themes, great characters, and a great story to tell. It gripped me all the way through. While I wish I’d had some more knowledge of its predecessor going in, that is not the fault of the book. Even without Oryx and Crake, the book stands on its own fairly well.

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