The Year of the Flood covers much the same time period as does the first novel of the Maddaddam trilogy, Oryx and Crake, only from the points of view of different characters. What the two main characters of this novel have in common is the Gardeners, an ecological religious cult.
Years ago, Toby was a pleeblander attending a mediocre college until one of the Corporations wanted her father’s land. After her father’s questionable suicide, Toby destroyed her identity and got along as best she could in the margins of society. When she found herself captive in an abusive relationship with a thug named Blanco, her friend Rebecca and the Gardeners came to her rescue. At the beginning of the novel, though, Toby is living alone in the Anoo Yoo spa after the Waterless Flood, long predicted by the Gardeners.
Ren lived in the elite Compounds where her father was a drug industry worker until her mother ran off with Zeb, a Gardener, taking Ren with her. She spent most of her childhood with the Gardeners until her mother split from Zeb and moved back to the Compounds, claiming to be a kidnapping victim. Ren is in isolation at the sex club where she works when the Waterless Flood occurs. Being locked away from others saves her from the plague.
Both women find they must leave their sanctuaries and venture out into a deadly world, the unintended consequence of the madness of Crake.
The Year of the Flood provides more insight about the events leading up to the Flood and the identities of the group calling themselves Maddaddam. The novel is ironically punctuated by the homilies of Adam One, leader of the Gardeners, and by Gardener hymns.
This novel is fascinating, full of sly humor and an incredible inventiveness. I can’t wait to read Maddaddam.