Margaret Atwood's new novel can be read as the dramatic conclusion of the trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, but it possesses enough resonance of its own to be read as a standalone. Certainly, as rendered by the talented Canadian author, the ongoing struggle of Toby, Zeb, Ren, and Amanda to survive in a post-apocalyptic world holds our fervent attention. (P.S. Atwood is renowned as the creator of literary science fiction. Among her honors is an Arthur C. Clarke Award.)
MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3)by Margaret Atwood
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
A Best Book of the Year: The Guardian, NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, The Globe and Mail
A GoodReads Reader's Choice
Bringing together Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, this thrilling conclusion to Margaret Atwood's speculative/i>/i>/i>/i>/i>/i>
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
A Best Book of the Year: The Guardian, NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, The Globe and Mail
A GoodReads Reader's Choice
Bringing together Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, this thrilling conclusion to Margaret Atwood's speculative fiction trilogy points toward the ultimate endurance of community, and love.
Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it's left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb.
Zeb has been searching for Adam One, founder of the God's Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters. At the center of MaddAddam is the story of Zeb's dark and twisted past, which contains a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.
Combining adventure, humor, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy.
"Thoughtful, sardonic, and full of touches that almost resemble a fairy tale, MaddAddam will stick with you long after you've put it down. It's an apocalypse story about new life, and a condemnation of humanity that ends, however uneasily, with a celebration of it." —NPR
"MaddAddam is sharp, witty and strong enough to stand alone ... Peppered with witty neologisms, Atwood’s character-driven novel is terrific precisely because of close attention to detail, to voice, to what’s in the hearts of these people: love, loss, the need to keep on keeping on, no matter what ... [T]his novel sings." —Miami Herald
"[S]ardonically funny ... [Atwood] certainly has the tone exactly right, both for the linguistic hypocrisy that can disguise any kind of catastrophe, and for the contemptuous dismissal of those who point to disaster ... MaddAddam is at once a pre- and a post-apocalypse story." —The Wall Street Journal
"[T]here is something funny, even endearing, about such a dark and desperate view of a future — a ravaged world emerging from alarmingly familiar trends — that is so jam-packed with the gifts of imagination, invention, intelligence and joy. There may be some hope for us yet." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Margaret Atwood continues to flourish as she approaches her fifth decade of publication ... A thrilling and enchanting — funny, sad, clever, audacious — tale of grumpy, deflated, and perilous post-apocalyptic times, year 0.6." —The Vancouver Sun
"[T]he imaginative universe Atwood has created in these books is huge ... It's a dystopia, but it's still fun ... Atwood doesn't just ask what if, she raises an eyebrow and says, See where we're going? Yet she's not a pessimist: She's invented a future large enough to include, after the end of the world, people falling in love." —Los Angeles Times
"This unsentimental narrative exposes the heart of human creativity as well as our self-destructive darkness ... MaddAddam is fueled with edgy humor, sardonic twists, hilarious coincidences." —Boston Globe
"The final entry in Atwood’s brilliant MaddAddam trilogy roils with spectacular and furious satire ... Her vision is as affirming as it is cautionary, and the conclusion of this remarkable trilogy leaves us not with a sense of despair at mankind’s failings but with a sense of awe at humanity’s barely explored potential to evolve." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ten years after Oryx & Crake rocked readers the world over, Atwood brings her cunning, impish, and bracing speculative trilogy—following The Year of the Flood—to a gritty, stirring, and resonant conclusion ... Atwood is ascendant, from her resilient characters to the feverishly suspenseful plot involving battles, spying, cyberhacking, murder, and sexual tension ... The coruscating finale in an ingenious, cautionary trilogy of hubris, fortitude, wisdom, love, and life’s grand obstinacy." —Booklist
"[T]ense and exciting ... MaddAddam is an extraordinary achievement ... Atwood's body of work will last precisely because she has told us about ourselves. It is not always a pretty picture, but it is true for all that." —The Independent (UK)
"[MaddAddam] deploys its author's trademark cool, omniscient satire, but adds to that a real sense of engagement with a fallen world. Atwood has created something reminiscent of Shakespeare's late comedies; her wit and dark humour combine with a compassionate tenderness towards struggling human beings." —The Independent (UK)
Read an Excerpt
The Story of the Egg, and of Oryx and Crake, and how they made People and Animals; and of the Chaos; and of Snowman-the-Jimmy; and of the Smelly Bone and the coming of the Two Bad Men
In the beginning, you lived inside the Egg. That is where Crake made you.
Yes, good, kind Crake. Please stop singing or I can’t go on with the story.
The Egg was big and round and white, like half a bubble, and there were trees inside it with leaves and grass and berries. All the things you like to eat.
Yes, it rained inside the Egg.
No, there was not any thunder.
Because Crake did not want any thunder inside the Egg.
And all around the Egg was the chaos, with many, many people who were not like you.
Because they had an extra skin. That skin is called clothes. Yes, like mine.
And many of them were bad people who did cruel and hurtful things to one another, and also to the animals. Such as . . . We don’t need to talk about those things right now.
And Oryx was very sad about that, because the animals were her Children. And Crake was sad because Oryx was sad.
And the chaos was everywhere outside the Egg. But inside the Egg there was no chaos. It was peaceful there.
And Oryx came every day to teach you. She taught you what to eat, she taught you to make fire, she taught you about the animals, her Children. She taught you to purr if a person is hurt. And Crake watched over you.
Yes, good, kind Crake. Please stop singing. You don’t have to sing every time. I’m sure Crake likes it, but he also likes this story and he wants to hear the rest.
Then one day Crake got rid of the chaos and the hurtful people, to make Oryx happy, and to clear a safe place for you to live in.
Yes, that did make things smell very bad for a while.
And then Crake went to his own place, up in the sky, and Oryx went with him.
I don’t know why they went. It must have been a good reason. And they left Snowman-the-Jimmy to take care of you, and he brought you to the seashore. And on Fish Days you caught a fish for him, and he ate it.
I know you would never eat a fish, but Snowman-the-Jimmy is different.
Because he has to eat a fish or he would get very sick.
Because that is the way he is made.
Then one day Snowman-the-Jimmy went to see Crake. And when he came back, there was a hurt on his foot. And you purred on it, but it did not get better.
And then the two bad men came. They were left over from the chaos.
I don’t know why Crake didn’t clear them away. Maybe they were hiding under a bush, so he didn’t see them. But they’d caught Amanda, and they were doing cruel and hurtful things to her.
We don’t need to talk about those things right now.
And Snowman-the-Jimmy tried to stop them. And then I came, and Ren, and we caught the two bad men and tied them to a tree with a rope. Then we sat around the fire and ate soup. Snowman-the-Jimmy ate the soup, and Ren, and Amanda. Even the two bad men ate the soup.
Yes, there was a bone in the soup. Yes, it was a smelly bone.
I know you do not eat a smelly bone. But many of the Children of Oryx like to eat such bones. Bobkittens eat them, and rakunks, and pigoons, and liobams. They all eat smelly bones. And bears eat them.
I will tell you what a bear is later.
We don’t need to talk any more about smelly bones right now.
And as they were all eating the soup, you came with your torches, because you wanted to help Snowman-the-Jimmy, because of his hurt foot. And because you could tell there were some women who were blue, so you wanted to mate with them.
You didn’t understand about the bad men, and about why they had a rope on them. It is not your fault they ran away into the forest. Don’t cry.
Yes, Crake must be very angry with the bad men. Perhaps he will send some thunder.
Yes, good, kind Crake.
Please stop singing.
About the events of that eveningthe events that set human malice loose in the world againToby later made two stories. The first story was the one she told out loud, to the Children of Crake; it had a happy outcome, or as happy as she could manage. The second, for herself alone, was not so cheerful. It was partly about her own idiocy, her failure to pay attention, but also it was about speed. Everything had happened so quickly.
She’d been tired, of course; she must have been suffering from an adrenalin plunge. After all, she’d been going strong for two days with a lot of stress and not much to eat.
The day before, she and Ren had left the safety of the MaddAddam cobb-house enclave that sheltered the few survivors from the global pandemic that had wiped out humanity. They’d been tracking Ren’s best friend, Amanda, and they’d found her just in time because the two Painballers who’d been using her had almost used her up. Toby was familiar with the ways of such men: she’d been almost killed by one of them before she’d become a God’s Gardener. Anyone who’d survived Painball more than once had been reduced to the reptilian brain. Sex until you were worn to a fingernail was their mode; after that, you were dinner. They liked the kidneys.
Toby and Ren had crouched in the shrubbery while the Painballers argued over the rakunk they were eating, and whether to attack the Crakers, and what to do next with Amanda. Ren had been scared silly; Toby hoped she wouldn’t faint, but she couldn’t worry about that because she was nerving herself to fire. Which to shoot first, the bearded one or the shorthair? Would the other have time to grab their spraygun? Amanda wouldn’t be able to help, or even run: they had a rope around her neck, with the other end tied to the leg of the bearded one. A wrong move by Toby, and Amanda would be dead.
Then a strange man had shambled out of the bushes, sunburnt and scabby and naked and clutching a spraygun, and had almost shot everyone in sight, Amanda included. But Ren had screamed and run into the clearing, and that had been enough of a distraction. Toby had stepped out, rifle aimed; Amanda had torn free; and the Painballers had been subdued with the aid of some groin kicks and a rock, and tied up with their own rope and with strips torn from the pink AnooYoo Spa top-to-toe sun coverup that Toby had been wearing.
Ren had then busied herself with Amanda, who was possibly in shock, and also with the scabby naked man, whom she called Jimmy. She’d wrapped him up in the rest of the top-to-toe, talking to him softly; it seemed he was a long-ago boyfriend of hers.
Now that things were tidier, Toby had felt she could relax. She’d steadied herself with a Gardener breathing exercise, timing it to the soothing rhythm of the nearby waveswish-wash, wish-washuntil her heart had slowed to normal. Then she’d cooked a soup.
And then the moon had risen.
The rising moon signalled the beginning of the God’s Gardeners Feast of Saint Julian and All Souls: a celebration of God’s tenderness and compassion for all creatures. The universe is held in the hollow of His hand, as Saint Julian of Norwich taught us in her mystic vision so long ago. Forgiveness must be offered, loving kindness must be practised, circles must be unbroken. All souls means all, no matter what they may have done. At least from moonrise to moonset.
Once the Gardener Adams and Eves taught you something, you stayed taught. It would have been next to impossible for her to kill the Painballers on that particular nightbutcher them in cold blood, since by that time the two of them were firmly roped to a tree.
Amanda and Ren had done the roping. They’d been to Gardener school together where they’d done a lot of crafts with recycled materials, so they were proficient at knotwork. Those guys looked like macramé.
On that blessed Saint Julian’s evening, Toby had set the weaponry to one sideher own antiquated rifle and the Painballers’ spraygun, and Jimmy’s spraygun as well. Then she’d played the kindly godmother, ladling out the soup, dividing up the nutrients for all to share.
She must have been mesmerized by the spectacle of her own nobility and kindness. Getting everyone to sit in a circle around the cozy evening fire and drink soup togethereven Amanda, who was so traumatized she was almost catatonic; even Jimmy, who was shivering with fever and talking to a dead woman who was standing in the flames. Even the two Painballers: did she really think they would have a conversion experience and start hugging bunnies? It’s a wonder she didn’t sermonize as she doled out the bone soup. Some for you, and some for you, and some for you! Shed the hatred and viciousness! Come into the circle of light!
But hatred and viciousness are addictive. You can get high on them. Once you’ve had a little, you start shaking if you don’t get more.
As they were eating the soup, they’d heard voices approaching through the shoreline trees. It was the Children of Crake, the Crakersthe strange gene-spliced quasi-humans who lived by the sea. They were filing through the trees, carrying pitch-pine torches and singing their crystalline songs.
Toby had seen these people only briefly, and in daytime. Gleaming in the moonlight and the torchlight, they were even more beautiful. They were all coloursbrown, yellow, black, whiteand all heights, but each was perfect. The women were smiling serenely; the men were in full courtship mode, holding out bunches of flowers, their naked bodies like a fourteen-year-old’s comic-book rendition of how bodies ought to be, each muscle and ripple defined and glistening. Their bright blue and unnaturally large penises were wagging from side to side like the tails of friendly dogs.
Afterwards, Toby could never quite remember the sequence of events, if you could call it a sequence. It had been more like a pleebland street brawl: rapid action, tangled bodies, a cacophony of voices.
Where is the blue? We can smell the blue! Look, there is Snowman! He is thin! He is very sick!
Ren: Oh shit, it’s the Crakers. What if they want . . . Look at their . . . Crap!
The Craker women, spotting Jimmy: Let us help Snowman! He needs us to purr!
The Craker men, sniffing Amanda: She is the blue one! She smells blue! She wants to mate with us! Give her the flowers! She will be happy!
Amanda, scared: Stay away! I don’t . . . Ren, help me! Four large, beautiful, flower-toting naked men close in on her. Toby! Get them away from me! Shoot them!
The Craker women: She is sick. First we have to purr on her. To make her better. And give her a fish?
The Craker men: She is blue! She is blue! We are happy! Sing to her!
The other one is blue also.
That fish is for Snowman. We must keep that fish.
Ren: Amanda, maybe just take the flowers, or they might get mad or something . . .
Toby, her voice thin and ineffectual: Please, listen, stand back, you’re frightening . . .
What is this? Is this a bone? Several of the women, peering into the soup pot: Are you eating this bone? It smells bad.
We do not eat bones. Snowman does not eat bones, he eats a fish. Why do you eat a smelly bone?
It is Snowman’s foot that is smelling like a bone. A bone left by vultures. Oh Snowman, we must purr on your foot!
Jimmy, feverish: Who are you? Oryx? But you’re dead. Everyone’s dead. Everyone in the whole world, they’re all dead . . . He starts crying.
Do not be sad, Oh Snowman. We have come to help.
Toby: Maybe you shouldn’t touch . . . that’s infected . . . he needs . . .
Jimmy: Ow! Fuck!
Oh Snowman, do not kick. It will hurt your foot. Several of them begin to purr, making a noise like a kitchen mixer.
Ren, calling for help: Toby! Toby! Hey! Let go of her!
Toby looks over, across the fire: Amanda has disappeared in a flickering thicket of naked male limbs and backs. Ren throws herself into the sprawl and is quickly submerged.
Toby: Wait! Don’t . . . Stop that! What should she do? This is a major cultural misunderstanding. If only she had a pail of cold water!
Muffled cries. Toby rushes to help, but then:
One of the Painballers: Hey you! Over here!
These ones smell very bad. They smell like dirty blood. Where is the blood?
What is this? This is a rope. Why are they tied up with a rope?
Snowman showed us rope before, when he lived in a tree. Rope is for making his house. Oh Snowman, why is the rope tied to these men?
This rope is hurting these ones. We must take it away.
A Painballer: Yeah, that’s right. We’re in fucking agony. (Groans.)
Toby: Don’t touch them, they’ll . . .
The second Painballer: Fucking hurry up, Blueballs, before that old bitch . . .
Toby: No! Don’t untie . . . Those men will . . .
But it was already too late. Who knew the Crakers could be so quick with knots?
The two men were gone into the darkness, leaving behind them a snarl of rope and a scattering of embers. Idiot, Toby thought. You should have been merciless. Bashed their heads in with a rock, slit their throats with your knife, not even wasted any bullets on them. You were a dimwit, and your failure to act verges on criminal negligence.
It was hard to seethe fire was fadingbut she made a quick inventory: at least her rifle was still there, a small mercy. But the Painballer spraygun was missing. Pinhead, she told herself. So much for your Saint Julian and the loving kindness of the universe.
Meet the Author
MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, short-listed for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; and her most recent, The Year of the Flood. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator's Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.
- Toronto, Ontario
- Date of Birth:
- November 18, 1939
- Place of Birth:
- Ottawa, Ontario
- B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Five Stars MaddAdam is exactly what the followers of this trilogy were looking for. This book ties all the ends together for us. It’s masterful, and shows how well planned out this series was! I got the ARC on Netgalley and was planning to have my review up as soon as it was released but I’m so excited to finally have all my thoughts together. O&C really have us the basis to this story. We learn about Crake, and Jimmy and the whole world. Then we wait and wait, and finally Year of the Flood comes in and we meet more characters, the gardeners, a whole bigger world. We experience things more emotionally, it’s stronger then O&C and it hurts more too. Finally, MaddAdam comes along, allow a final conclusion. It’s a slow beginning but it picks right up where both books left off. Picks it up and starts tying it together. Each strand has been previously addressed and now we’re hearing the stories. The stories of Zeb, the Stories of Adam, and the stories of Crake. We are finally getting all the little pieces to come to together and we start to have glimpses of what the whole picture really looks like. We’ve seen fragments, and some have been happy, others are sad, but we’ve been awaiting the full picture. MaddAdam is similar to Year of the flood in the way it’s broken apart by stories like YotF was broken apart by the feast days in Toby’s journal. I adore the idea of the folk tales, of the Crakes learning of themselves and of their world through these tales. Overall, this novel was wonderful, made me sob like a baby with Margaret Atwood’s amazingly emotional storytelling and reminded me why I love her books so much. This is a stratifying conclusion to the whole trilogy, and though it’s different, because it’s told by different people and in a different section of time, it still resonates clearly with both of the previous books, and keeps the story arch strong and consistent! I really loved it, and am prepared to start all over again so it doesn’t have to end. ** I was given this book through NetGalley as a reviewer. **
I read O&C while on vacation in June and got After the Flood when I got back, which I promptly devoured. It drove me nuts that I had to wait until Sept. for the third book! I've just finished it and it was AMAZING! I laughed, I cried...no, really! I'm going to read it all again from the beginning. And continue to annoy my friends by telling them to READ THIS TRILOGY!
Atwood is one of my favorite authors and this trilogy is one of her most amazing works yet. Some people are foodies - I guess I'm a wordie - and her sensitivity to the nuance of words and language and human nature combined with her ability to use this skill to say something thought-provoking and perspective-changing leaves me simultaneously awestruck and inspired to write. So seldom do I feel changed after reading something anymore. With her writing, I feel I evolve. That said, if you prefer tidy, uncomplicated stories with tidy, uncomplicated characters where the good guys always win and it is always clear who the good guys are - Atwood is not for you.
Fantastic alternate reality book that integrates a lot of interesting environmental and scientific issues.
This book follows the same format as the other two before it. A story line which takes you back through the past of one of the main characters (Zeb in this case) mixed with the happenings of the present. I found Zeb’s story a bit more interesting than the rest but nothing that much more exciting that what was told in the past. All in all a good series which is interesting an a sci-fi way but if you’re looking for more of a post-apocalyptic read where you see the end of the world this isn’t really that type of book.
Love the series - must read them all! gimme more, more, more!
... if a touch sad at the ending. I find it charmingly clever how Atwood creates a story about stories, and fits it, quite naturally, into a work of speculative fiction. This MaddAddam series finale does a great job of providing the reader closure, and is another fine example of the author's craft-mastery. Thank you, Ms Atwood. Goodnight.
I have said those words to so many people regarding Atwood's Oryx & Crake, Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam. There is just so much good here. This book stands out in the series for exploring the nature of language, storytelling, and culture, while also continuing to offer dark insight on the current state of affairs, a vivid imaginative world of the future, and incredible characters. Toby is fascinating, and this book provides the most development of her, Jeb, and Adam One. So... you have to read these books.
Best read I have had in long time. Thanks Leah.