In MaddAddam, the third volume of Atwood’s apocalyptic MaddAddam trilogy, she has sent the survivors of Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood to a compound where they await a final showdown. But what gives MaddAddam such tension and light are the final revelations of how this new world came to be, and how the characters made their way to this battle for the future of humanity … Like its predecessors, MaddAddam is as much a story of adolescent longing and disappointment as it is of life before and after the Waterless Flood. In Atwood’s world, hearts broken early in life don’t heal; the larger strokes of politics and plague are less important to these books than the small hurts and jealousies of its survivors...And yet, for all this sorrow, the novel is also filled with humor and joy.
Like its predecessors, MaddAddam is a blend of satiric futurism and magic realism, a snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease … What's delightful about this novel is that Atwood always balances philosophically weighty topics with a humorous realism. Yes, there is a search for meaning and spiritual sustenance here, but there are also petty jealousies among the Gardeners and arguments over who will do the chores. Post-apocalyptic life, observes our Gardener protagonist Toby, is kind of like high school … Atwood relishes a good apocalypse, and there is no nostalgic invitation to mourn the loss of humanity here. The waterless flood that pulped our species is never portrayed as anything but the clearcutting we deserved. As a result, there's no ambiguity about the apocalypse bringing about a utopia. Genocide is the best thing that could have happened to us.
In Atwood's near-ish future, global warming has reshaped the landscape — Harvard has drowned, New York City has relocated to New Jersey, and L.A.'s Venice canals have filled with a dirty sea. The rich are ensconced in walled enclaves of plenty while everyone else is left to ‘pleeblands,’ degraded former cities and suburbs rampant with lawlessness … With puns and wordplay, Atwood pokes fun at our reality through the bleak future she's imagined. She prefers the term ‘speculative fiction’ to ‘science fiction’ … Characters that were once resourceful and desperate to survive now mill and mope. When serious conflict finally arrives, it is hidden within layers of storytelling, conveyed as a veiled, soft-focus legend.