**a few hours later**
In light of Jason pointing out some glaring inconsistencies in my Atwood ratings, and upon further reflection (like this stuff matters): I'm going to drop O&C to a low 4 and raise this one to a mid- to high 4. The reality is that, compared to lots of other stuff, they should both probably be 5, but we are hardest on those we love best.
It might be my current state of mind; it might be that I read this too close to .
ETA: ok, the rest of this can stand.
Here's my issue: I'm struggling to understand why Atwood conceived the two - Oryx & Crake
and this one - together, but wrote them as separate books. The Jimmy character and story-line of O&C was weak--it could easily have been slashed and spliced onto this one (hehe -- that's an insidery pun for those who are playing the home game).
If you read in order of publication, which seems the sensible thing to do, O&C comes first. But that reading order means that O&C takes the edge off this one, dulling the horror and the tension of The Year of the Flood
. All the cleverness and disconcerting detail which was only hinted at in O&C, is fleshed out (hehe) in The Year of the Flood
within the latter's better story, richer characterization, and far more visceral descriptions of horror (Atwood is best, I find, when her horrific details jump out at you from behind a bush, not when they linger in the air like a bad smell).
Bottom line, I wish I had read this one first.
Top marks, though, to the God's Gardeners concept (and theme of environmentalism-as-a-religion). Its execution is classic Atwood: bitingly satiric, filled with obscure but meaningful detail, coherent but also ethically disorienting; fully and quirkily developed (how much do I love that the "hymns" were based on The Hymn Book of The Anglican Church of Canada and The United Church of Canada
? And how much do I love this, from the Acknowledgements: "Orville Stoeber of Venice, California, began composing the music to several of these hymns to see what might happen, and then got swept away. The extraordinary results can be heard on the CD,
Hymns of the God's Gardeners. Anyone who wishes to use any of these hymns for amateur devotional or environmental purposes is more than welcome to do so.
(my emphasis -- OMG, Margaret, you are the QUEEN of the sardonic aside.)
Earthseed versus God's Gardeners: God's Gardeners massive WIN.The Year of the Flood
versus Oryx & Crake
: objectively, the Flood wins; subjectively, the reverse, but only because O&C won the toss.