Nov. 14th, 2014

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I saw on some thread on FFA that there were sequels to Oryx and Crake, which I remember vaguely liking (Atwood in general is an author I vaguely like) and had had no idea there were sequels for. So I went looking for the entire trilogy.

Oryx and Crake (reread) - 3+/5 - I remembered nothing of my previous read of this book except that I read it on a plane flight (why do I remember this? no idea) and that there was a climactic scene that took place in an airlock. (I actually extrapolated from the airlock that they were in a spaceship, and it really confused me on reread that there were no spaceships to be seen.) On reread, it was entertaining. Atwood is a good writer and I enjoy reading her prose. On the other hand, I realized that I often don't really like her characters or her worldview very much (I mean, it's dystopia! But still), and it's not surprising to me that I didn't remember the book very well (or indeed any of her books). It also surprised me that Oryx herself was as small a part of the book as she was. Anyway, this one was good.

The Year of the Flood - 3+/5 - Retcon of Oryx and Crake. It was a good thing I read O&C right before, because otherwise there's no way I would have remembered details, like that Glenn was Crake's original name. More women, who are more interesting.

The thing about this book is that pretty much every character in it survived the plague, whereas pretty much no one else did -- and completely coincidentally. I kept waiting for a reveal that they were all being shot up with vaccine somehow, but no, it was all just a coincidence. Well, okay then.

MaddAddam - DNF. I read some of this and fairly early on went looking for spoilers to see if anything actually happened, as everything I was reading so far seemed to be on the order of adolescent boyfriend squabbling. Spoiler: in fact, as far as I can tell, nothing actually happens in this book except adolescent boyfriend squabbling. You'd expect that in the concluding volume of a trilogy there'd be some revelation, something that changes the way we think about everything that happened, some relationship between MaddAddam and the plague, some light shed on why Crake did what he did... nope. Which, okay, she's making a point about human nature and how even after the end of the world squabbling is pretty much what you can expect from humans, but really, if I wanted to read about that I'd read Sweet Valley High or something.

The other thing that bugged me about this book is that humans are trying to explain things / tell stories to the Crakers, and Atwood writes down their attempts, which usually involve a lot of frustration on the parts of the humans, trying to gloss over concepts that the Crakers don't have (usually involving negative human emotions). Ha ha. Okay, so, here's the thing: THIS IS MY LIFE. I spend a nontrivial amount of every day explaining things to a four-year-old. Some of them involve things I by necessity have to gloss over, or am uncomfortable with and punt. Some of them I explain in small words and then regret it. (See also: the discussion of burial techniques, including cremation, that we had the other day(*), which has led to E occasionally blurting out questions like "Mommy, do you know anyone who was burnt up?") The thing is, Atwood seems to think we should think this is special and specially hard to do. Nope. Well, yes, hard to do, but not special.

(*) You might well ask, why were we discussing burial techniques? Well, so, I had to teach this lesson at church on how we should all be doing family scripture study, and so I felt like I could not really teach this lesson without being a huge hypocrite if we weren't at least trying to do this. I won't read the Book of Mormon as our scripture time on general principle, and I figured the New Testament would be a little better than the Old Testament in terms of general R-rated-ness. Well. Perhaps it should have occurred to me that a brutal, torture-filled death is the centerpiece of the Gospels? In addition to having to explain why they covered Jesus' body with sweet spices (which is how we got into the burial techniques), I have also had to explain (for instance) why, in the parable of the vineyard, they "took [the vineyard owner's son], killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard" (Mark 12:8), which E was fascinated by. ("Because they were mean and they wanted things that weren't theirs. These are very, very not-nice things to do.")


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