Tag Archives: atwood

The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

I do like Atwood novels. Clearly I had to read this one as soon as possible – I think I even pre-ordered it.

Here’s the blurb …

Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

This novel had an intriguing premise – people live normal lives for a month and then are imprisoned for a month. They have ‘alternates’ with whom they share a house – when you are in prison your alternate is in the house and vice-versa. In this way a community only needs half as many houses and jobs. The community is extremely isolated – once you are in you can’t leave, there is no internet access and the only media available is produced by Consilience. As you no doubt imagine, sinister things are afoot. What has happened to the original (and true criminals)? What exactly does Charmaine do in her prison time (I will give you a clue the title has something to do with her job)? There are affairs, sex dolls, headless chickens and mind control through brain surgery. Atwood paints a dreary picture of the future and what big business will do to us all – and then we hear about the antics of VW and realise big business probably is amoral.

More reviews …




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Maddaddam – Margaret Atwood

Maddaddam - Margaret Atwood

Maddaddam – Margaret Atwood

This is the third and final installment of Atwood’s post-apocalyptic series. Once again, I thought Atwood’s writing was spectacular.

Here’s the blurb …

Bringing together Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, this thrilling conclusion to Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction trilogy points toward the ultimate endurance of community, and love.

Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it’s left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb.

Zeb has been searching for Adam One, founder of the God’s Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters. At the center of MaddAddam is the story of Zeb’s dark and twisted past, which contains a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.

Combining adventure, humor, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy.

I love the way Atwood puts words together …

‘…the grey lichen on it, frilly and intricate and see through like whore’s underpants…’

And it is humourous, for example

Delirium had not set in, however; though how would he be sure?

or any of the occasions when Toby has to tell the Crackers a story.

Because if nothing ever died, but everything had more and more babies, the world would get too full and there wouldn’t be any more room.

No, you will not be cooked on a fire when you die.

Because you are not a fish.

No, the bear wasn’t a fish either. And it died in a bear way. Not in a fish way. So it was not cooked on a fire.

Yes, maybe Zeb said Thank You to Oryx too. As well as to the bear.


No, snowflakes have nothing to do with Snowman-the-Jimmy. I don’t know why part of his name is almost the same as snowflake.

I am doing this thing with my hands on my forehead because I have a headache. A headache is when there is a pain in your head.

Thank you. I am sure purring would help. But it would also help if you would stop asking so many questions.

This story has a point (well several points), but it is sugar coated in a great story. Science and big business combine to devastating effect, people are separated into business compounds or the pleebands depending on their wealth and education.

I found the life in the cob house after the plague fascinating – they still managed to band together and create a community (with all of the good and bad things community involves – protection and jealousy). Humans are suprisingly resilient and the Crakers may prove to be more human (and adaptable) after all.


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