MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
MaddAddam is the last instalment in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood. The novel follows a group of post-pandemic survivors – the Gardeners, a one-time eco-spiritual group, and the Crakers, a new species bioengineered to replace humans. The Crakers are one of the book’s most interesting elements and are designed to lack human flaws: they are vegan, require no homes or clothing, mate in groups, and experience no sexual jealousy. The novel shifts between Gordner Toby’s present-day life and defence of the compound, and the telling of her lover Zeb’s past and that of his brother, Adam.
In her signature style, Atwood deftly balances original and timely philosophies with sharp satire. She brings to life genetically modified organisms that include human-goat splices called the Mo’Hairs and human-pig splices called Pigoons. Atwood’s inventions are eerily conceivable and her ideas are, as always, foresighted if not borderline prescient. The book’s appeal, as is the case with the trilogy as a whole, arguably lies predominantly in those ideas while fiction elements like characterisation, setting and story are less generously crafted. Ultimately, it is MaddAddam’s complexity, sardonic humour and acute insights that make the novel an engrossing read. [Dima Alzayat]