The Year of the Flood as Standalone Novel

I mentioned previously that I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy in order to review them, in particular the forthcoming third book, MaddAddam.

I’ll be teaching my class on religion and science fiction this coming semester, and have been debating what novel or novels to include, along with the many short stories and

The second book in the trilogy, The Year of the Flood, has the most interesting content from the perspective of the class. That’s the one I mentioned previously, with the hymns of the God’s Gardeners. Reading all three novels is probably too much to attempt in a semester, at least without cutting other things that I think are important. I’m wondering whether reading only The Year of the Flood without reading the first book, Oryx and Crake, would work.

Has anyone read The Year of the Flood without reading Oryx and Crake first? Did it make sense reading it that way? Do you think that students would be receptive to my assigning, or encouraging, the reading of the first novel, without discussing it in detail except in the process of discussing The Year of the Flood?

  • Ziroonderel

    Due to the way these books were published in my country, I didn’t even know “The Year of the Flood” was a second part of trilogy when I read it. I think it works quite well as a standalone – I didn’t feel very confused (well, no more than usual with Atwood), and while one gets a sense of a bigger story somewhere in the background, it doesn’t spoil the fun of the one at hand.

    I think that these books actually have so little in common that students might get angry for having to read both, if you’re not going to discuss “Oryx and Crake” in details. While it’s a great book, it really doesn’t feel like it’s necessary for enjoyment or understanding “The year of the Flood”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thanks for sharing this. Oryx and Crake does indeed drop one into the middle of a situation that we then figure out through ongoing narration and flashbacks. I did think that students would resent being asked to read a book that we won’t focus on. I might let students know as soon as possible that we’re going to be reading a novel that is a sequel, and that they can read the first one between now and then if they are so inclined.

      My main concern was that the references to the character of Crake/Glenn and the “waterless flood” might be less than intelligible without having read the first book. But it sounds like it worked for you, and I am inclined to require only The Year of the Flood.

      Thank you again so much for your input!


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