The Year of the Floor (Book Review)

Only after reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood did I realize that it is part two of a trilogy- but regardless, it was still good. Incidentally, it helps to clear up why there were so many unexplained occurrences in the book. If you want to read the books in order they are Oryx and Crake, followed by The Year of the Flood, and a conclusion with Maddaddam.

Essentially, the book was a warning for the people of our world about what happens when we start to get too far away from where we began as humans, and what chaos ensues when we start letting our scientists and leaders play god. The part that I found most interesting about the book was the religion of the main characters- the rogue cult of “the Gardeners”.

The Gardener’s views on life can be summed up in a statement by one of their followers:

“According to Adam One, the Fall of Man was multidimensional. The ancestral primates fell out of the trees; then they fell from vegetarianism into meat-eating. Then they fell from instinct into reason, and thus into technology; from simple signals into complex grammar, and thus into humanity; from firelessness into fire, and thence into weaponry; and from seasonal mating into an incessant sexual twitching. Then they fell from a joyous life in the moment into the anxious contemplation of the vanished past and the distant future.”

The Gardeners attempt to merge religion and science, in a world where science has become a sort of god, and the world has become almost completely full of genetically modified species suited to the purposes of humans. The world has become so far apart from what we now consider “natural,” they are weak in the face of the natural world.

“Nature full strength is more than we can take, Adam One used to say. It’s a potent hallucinogen, a soporific, for the untrained Soul. We’re no longer at home in it. We need to dilute it. We can’t drink it straight. And God is the same. Too much God and you overdose. God needs to be filtered.”

Throughout the book, the Gardeners maintain a sense of hippie granola health, while the world around them falls apart from trying too hard to protect itself from the world. Before the coming “Waterless Flood,” which the Gardeners predict will wipe out the human race, the Gardeners launch a counter insurgency to bring the Earth back toward its “natural” course. In the book, a Gardener believer is heard stating,

“What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.”

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midwestern librarian, writer, activist

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