Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

I just finished reading Books I & II of Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy. I would go ahead and read Book III, but it has yet to be released.

I love Margaret Atwood's writing. The Handmaid's Tale was riveting, in a disturbing way. Alias Grace was compelling and thought provoking. Moral Disorder careened from joyful to mournful, exactly as the title suggested it would. The Blind Assassin was spellbindingly mysterious and haunting.

I'm usually okay with books other people find "disturbing." I know a few people who were unable to finish Steig Larsson's The Girl Who... trilogy because of its graphic descriptions of rape and torture, and the emotional torment suffered by the eponymous Girl. It's not that the descriptions don't bother me, or make me shudder. Rather, I am so obsessive about finishing books that I feel I must soldier on, because I have to know what happens next. And then next. And then next.

Strangely, stories with ambiguous endings don't much bother me.

The MaddAddam Trilogy is disturbing, though, in a way that Steig Larsson wasn't, and I almost quit reading halfway through the first book in the series, Oryx and Crake. There are some descriptions of child abuse that not too graphic but descriptive enough that you get the point, and the character who suffered the worst abuse has a way of dismissing what happened to her that is deeply unsettling, although understandable from an emotional survival point of view. It's frankly horrifying to think about the mindset and the fictional environment that leads a child to respect his/her abusers because, hey, the abuser fed the abused, which is better than nothing, and the garage s/he was locked in? It was dry.

As usual, though, I kept reading, because the story and the premise were so compelling. None of the characters in the series have had "easy" lives, but so many of them have had such traumatic life experiences that it's a wonder they've survived.

But then, a central them of the books is survival against all odds.

If you're a fan of future dystopian fantasies, and you have a strong stomach, and you can wait until the next book is issued (I personally don't want to wait, but it's out of my hands), then I suggest reading it.

But make sure you have nerves of steel first.

I only do because of all the physical therapy.


  1. I feel much the same about this series so far. I accidentally went about reading them backwards; starting with The Year of the Flood I felt compelled to dig up Oryx and Crake.

    I only just realized today that this is a trilogy! I admit I am quite curious to see how/if it all comes together in book three.

  2. I read Oryx and Crake first but sometimes I suggest reading The Year of the Flood first to people who have not read any of the novels yet... I cannot WAIT until the next one comes out... and to find out from whose perspective it will be written.

  3. I admire Margaret<Atwood so much for her ability to lock me in to her characters and her stories....I first read Oryx and Crake and loved it, then when The Year Of The Flood came, I read that, then I had to read the first one again, then the second one, to see how it all fit together. I am eagerly awaiting the 3rd book because I have some unanswered questions - why did Crake kill Oryx etc.....more , more more......

  4. Great observations! I agree, Atwood is not afraid to take her readers to really disturbing places, and make us question the society in which we live.