Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam

Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam is first and foremost a love story. Atwood opens the final installment of her trilogy with a summary of the first two books. I thought this kind gesture by her was unique because it’s rare when book series writers give summaries of the previous books; they sort of expect you to just read the previous books first, and this can be off-putting for someone that picks up the book randomly.

“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too” (56).

In the previous books, we met Toby and Zeb. This is basically their story, and I liked it. There were points when I was mildly disinterested, but finding out Snowman-the-Jimmy’s fate ultimately kept me reading. As a reader, I found Toby to be a beautiful blend of tough and gentle. She is a kick-ass in the post-apocalyptic world, but she takes up Oryx’s task as mother figure to The Crakers with genuine delicacy.

The motif of ‘the legend’ or ‘the myth’ is constantly echoing in this novel. Toby narrates the stories of the human survivors and their connections to each other. Zeb turns into the leader for both the surviving Maddaddamites and The Crakers, so he must have a mythology of creation. The reader learns about his brother Adam, and the brothers’ hacking and spying of the mega-corporation Helthwyzer. While a convalescent Snowman-the-Jimmy is recovering from an infected wound, the reader finds three of his former flames (Ren, Wakulla Price, Amanda) working as a team and their sometimes amusing worry over him. As one of The Crakers says, “In his head there is something tangled” (147). In other words, Craker Psychology 101.

“Hope is when you want something very much but you do not know if the thing you want will really happen” (292).

The reader feels the exhaustion from Snowman-the-Jimmy and the Maddaddamites, so it’s hard to believe that it’s been less than half a year when Maddaddam takes place in the chronology of books. The group faces rape, wild pigoons, interspecies pregnancy, and intra-species violence from the Painballers. By the time The Crakers interpret an alliance between the Maddaddamites and the Pigoons, the reader is ready to break down the way Snowman-the-Jimmy finally does when re-confronted by Oryx and Crake’s decomposed bodies.

Atwood weaves the romantic angst within the apocalyptic stress of the narrative in a low-key way that prevents the book’s ending from being too sappy. There are some deaths both expected and unexpected, some interspecies births, and unions in the end. While Toby and Zeb are not able to live out a fairytale coupling, they do acknowledge their love with a simple wedding. The ending left me feeling grief and agony, but there is also a teeny-tiny flicker of hope that Toby is still out there chasing after her man with the same love as in beginning.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. Maddaddam: a novel. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2013. Print.

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: