"This is a gutsy and expansive novel, rich with ideas and conceits,
but overall it's more optimistic than Oryx &
Crake. Its characters have a compassion and energy lacking
in Jimmy, the wounded and floating lothario at the previous novel's
center. Each novel can be enjoyed independently of the other, but
what's perhaps most impressive is the degree of connection between
them. Together they form halves of a single epic…"
- Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"The tremendous imaginative power of [Atwood's] fiction allows us
to believe that anything is possible."
- New York Times Book Review
"Trust Margaret Atwood to put her finger on the pulse of the
- Globe and Mail
"Atwood is a natural seer for an age that does not want to look too
closely at what it condones, or refuses to see."
- Glasgow Herald
"Margaret Atwood has outdone - and outsung - herself this
time. The Year of the Flood is at once a
solemn praise song to human hope and a dead-serious poke at our
capacity for self-destruction. The novel shows the Nobel
Prize-worthy Margaret Atwood at the pinnacle of her prodigious
- Elle Magazine
1. How does the friendship between Amanda and Ren grow, despite
their differences and the restrictions they face? They meet as
children. Who was your greatest ally when you were that age? What
do you think of Ren''s treatment of Bernice?
2. What survival skills do the novel''s female characters
possess? Do they find security or vulnerability at Scales and
Tales, the AnooYoo Spa, and within the community of Gardeners? What
strength does Pilar find in nature, while Lucerne is drawn to
3. How do Adam One''s motivations compare to Zeb''s? In their
world, what advantages do men have? Are they really
4. Discuss Toby''s parents and their fate. What does their story
illustrate about the dangers of an unregulated and corrupt drug
industry? What motivates Toby to become a healer?
5. How does Adam One''s explanation of creation and the fall of
humanity compare to more standard Judeo-Christian ideas? What does
he offer his followers, beyond an understanding of the planet and
the creatures that inhabit it?
6. Discuss the father figures in Ren''s life: her stepfather,
Zeb; her biological father, Frank; and eventually Mordis. What did
they teach her about being a woman? How did they shape her
expectations of Jimmy?
7. As a refugee from Texas, Amanda is an outsider, facing
constant risk. Would you have harbored her? Why is Ren so impressed
8. What is the result of a penal system like Painball? How does
it influence the citizens'' attitude toward crime?
9. Should Toby have honored Pilar''s deathbed wish that she
become an Eve? How did the lessons in beekeeping serve Toby in
other ways as well?
10. Crake''s BlyssPlus pill offers many false promises. What are
they, and what was Crake really striving for (chapter 73)? If human
beings are the greatest problem for the natural world, could they
also provide solutions less drastic than Crake''s? How?
11. In what ways do the novel''s three voices-Toby''s, Ren''s,
and Adam One''s-complement one another? What unique perspective is
offered in each narration?
12. Explore the lyrics from The God''s Gardeners Oral
Hymnbook. What do they say about the Gardener theology and the
nature of their faith? Adam One does not always tell the truth to
his congregation. Is well-meant lying ever acceptable?
13. Margaret Atwood''s fiction often displays "gallows humor."
Can a thing be dire and funny at the same time? Must we laugh or
14. The Year of the Flood covers the same time
period as Oryx and Crake, and contains a number of
the same characters - ("Snowman," a student at the Martha Graham
Academy and "the last man on earth") and Glenn ("Crake," who
studied at the Watson-Crick Institute), as well as Bernice,
Jimmy''s hostile college room-mate, Amanda, a live-in artist
girlfriend, Ren ("Brenda,") whom he remembers briefly in
Oryx and Crake as a high-school fling, Jimmy''s
mother, who runs away to become an activist, and the God''s
Gardeners, whom he mentions as a fringe green cult. Re-read the
final pages of both books. What do you predict for the remaining
characters? Should the Gardeners execute the Painballers? Why? Why
not? Would you?
15. What parallels did you see between The Year of the
Flood and current headlines?