Author: Margaret Atwood

Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

March 20, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Claire Danes
Published by Audible on January 1st 1985
Pages: 11 hours
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam

five-stars

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

‘We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.’

After the United States government is overturned, a fundamentalist Christian regime is established that call themselves the Republic of Gilead. All women’s rights are declared invalid: the right to vote, to have a job, to read or make any decisions on their own. With the ongoing war that followed the demolition of the government, infertility has become a massive problem as most women lack the capabilities now. Women are selected to be handmaid’s and their sole purpose is to provide offspring for the elite members of society. The Handmaid’s Tale is a memoir of sorts of one woman that was selected to be a handmaid.

‘I found myself asking why no one did anything to prevent it happening; surely people would protest, people would try to stop them?’

What a shocking, distressing and jaw-dropping read. The vital aspect of a good dystopian read is whether or not the transformed world is believable and realistic because that’s what truly brings it to life. The Handmaid’s Tale was disturbingly realistic simply due to the ease in which everything was transformed. Women got up, took care of their children and went to work like any other in this day and age. Except one morning, they got up and were told they were no longer able to work. They went to the store and were told they were no longer to make purchases of their own. And all this happened overnight. My first response was to consider how unlikely that is, but rights can be given and they can be taken away just as easily, even in the span of a single night. It’s quite the imaginable nightmare.

‘But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.’

The main character, Offred, is a woman clearly lacking in spirit after all the horrors she has suffered. The numbness is a bandaid of sorts to help her continue each day yet her anger and outrage remains clear as well as her perseverance to survive. Her day to day accountings are interspersed with memories of the past, when she had a job, and a husband, and a child of her own. That was the most tragic aspect of this story. It’s not the fact that women were basically walking wombs and their only purpose was to provide children for another but that these women had memories of life before. They knew of how different life can be and they had those memories to haunt them.

The Handmaid’s Tale is an incredibly visceral possibility of a potential future that only shows just how fragile women’s rights can be.

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Audiobook Review – MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret Atwood

October 1, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret AtwoodMaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Bernadette Dunne, Bob Walter, Robbie Daymond
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #3
Published by Random House Audio on September 3rd 2013
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, The Handmaid's Tale

three-half-stars

A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.

MaddAddam Trilogy

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2)

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1)
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2)

MaddAddam is the long-awaited conclusion to the trilogy which began with Oryx and Crake. It’s the story of Crake, a man who played God and developed a plague to wipe out the human race in order to usher forth a new, more advanced species called the Crakers. The MaddAddam introduction shows the few surviving humans converging with the Crakers in hopes that their combined efforts can ensure their survival in the harsh and ravaged world they are left with after the plague. In MaddAddam, it’s slow going but the Earth is on point to regenerate itself with an increase in thunderstorms and the growth of plants to help sustain their diets. Animals are even adapting to life among their genetically modified cousins, the rakunks, liobams, wolvogs and pigoons. The surviving humans are a combination of geneticists and environmentalists and we’re given several, separate stories that end up all integrating and explaining their roles from the beginning of the plague.

“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.”

MaddAddam is primarily told from the point of view of Toby, as it was in The Year of the Flood, however we receive much back-story about Zeb. Toby spends much time telling the story of Zeb to the Crakers, who have developed a strange fascination with Zeb. Much is left out and is transformed into a myth of sorts for them, just like the stories that Jimmy used to tell them.

Considering this is the final installment in a trilogy, I was personally expecting more of an engaging ending. It’s a slow-build of an ending and doesn’t exactly amount to much, but I believe that to be due to the way it was written. Most of the current happenings are told after the fact or retold in the form of a story rather than a step-by-step accounting of occurrences. We finally get all of our lingering questions answered regarding what led up to the plague being released on the world and how each character came to be where they are now in the story. While this managed to make it slightly less satisfying it was no less compelling. The MaddAddam trilogy is a unique interpretation of a dystopian world that is not only brilliantly imaginative but is shockingly possible.

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Audiobook Review – The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2) by Margaret Atwood

May 30, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2) by Margaret AtwoodThe Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol, Mark Bramhall
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #2
Published by Random House Audio on September 22nd 2009
Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, MaddAddam, The Handmaid's Tale

four-stars

Set in the visionary future of Atwood’s acclaimed Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction. In this second book of the MaddAddam trilogy, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.

The MaddAddam Trilogy
Oryx and Crake

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

The Year of the Flood is a companion novel to Oryx and Crake (however O&C fills in much of the necessary back story so make sure not to skip it).

The discussion (or argument) continues with The Year of the Flood regarding the ability to alter humans in order to achieve perfection and whether it’s an ability that should be used. This time, we get to see the world through the eyes of Gods Gardner’s (and also those of whom live in the pleeblands). The God’s Gardner’s are an extremely eco-conscious group of people that have been prophesying for years of the ‘Waterless Flood’ that is impending. Because these people have anticipated this event for so long they’re more prepared than anyone else, or at least the ones that survived the initial pandemic are. This group of people has created their own ideology which melds science and nature into the fabric of religion and was really quite fascinating. The most fascinating aspect of Oryx and Crake was learning about the pandemic and how it came to be but with The Year of the Flood it was the focus on this extremely adaptive group and how they managed to survive in a world where no one else could.

The highly creative world Atwood has created is not without flaws. It is imperfect and blemished, however for me that was what appealed the most. I expect if we ever find ourselves in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world it would be much the same lacking a perfectly wrapped up ending. Atwood has been clear to designate this trilogy as “speculative fiction” and not “science fiction”. Science fiction tends to be so outlandish that its very unlikely it will ever occur whereas speculative fiction may be outlandish at first glance yet its still dreadfully possible. That’s exactly what these stories exude: the actual possibility of these events transpiring. It’s what makes these books fantastic yet so terribly frightening.

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Audiobook Review – Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1) by Margaret Atwood

May 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1) by Margaret AtwoodOryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Campbell Scott
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #1
Published by Random House Audio on May 6th 2003
Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Canada, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, The Handmaid's Tale

four-half-stars

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

I am astounded at how fascinating this was.

The story opens with Snowman, a hermit of sorts, struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic society that has experienced an originally unknown catastrophic event. Snowman is seemingly the last human left on earth, with only the Craker’s to keep him company but they are far from being close to human.

We’re treated to flashbacks to Snowman’s childhood, back when he was known as Jimmy, back before the entire Earth was changed. His parents were scientists that dealt in genetic manipulation and were in charge of creating pigoons, pigs which were engineered solely to grow human organs for transplants. We’re also introduced to Crake, a childhood friend of Jimmy’s who goes on to become a brilliant geneticist and the creator of the pill and the project behind the Craker’s.

‘They were inextricably linked—the Pill and the Project. The Pill would put a stop to haphazard reproduction, the Project would replace it with a superior method. They were two stages of a single plan, you might say.’

Oryx and Crake is much more philosophical than I had anticipated. This is a story of altering the human design to create the perfect creature. Crake intended on playing ‘God’ in order to design the perfect human being that would not continue to destroy the Earth and while it’s easy to call his actions wrong, it could also be construed as genius. The Craker’s are peaceful creatures that are physically perfect and lack any sort of violent thoughts or sexual drives and treat the Earth with far more care than any human ever did. The question remains: even if we have the power to alter life itself, do we have the right to do it? Even if it benefits the Earth and possibly saves it for future generations? But what purpose is that if all humanity is killed off for created creatures to continue living so as to repopulate the Earth? Oryx and Crake definitely raises some interesting questions.

I loved the brief glimpses into the past. We’re already given a glimpse of the world as it is “now”: Snowman is the only human remaining, he’s practically starving to death and the Earth has been ransacked. What was the catalyst that caused this change? How long has Snowman been forced to live like this? Slowly we’re given answers and paints a shocking picture. Margaret Atwood is an amazingly inventive writer and has created a world that is both inconceivable and convincing.

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