Okay – positives. Atwood has created a vivid and believable world here. The future is all fast food and government conspiracies, except for the radical religious group – God’s Gardeners – who prophecise the arrival of a waterless flood that will wipe out most of humanity. Unfortunately they are right.
We know this from the start of the novel, but much of it tracks the several years before this from the perspectives of the two main characters, both previously God’s Gardeners. Toby has left to escape a man who is out to kill her, and Ren was wrenched away in her childhood, and is now working as an exotic dancer. Both survive the flood.
The settings and the customs of these people are startlingly delivered – a whole new world, new language, songs, traditions. It is a powerful vision.
But it is more vision than plot. The aftermath of the flood is a small percentage of the novel and more is spent developing the world. This leaves me a little unsatisfied as the characters are not explored in full depth.
Each section begins with an original hymn and a speech from Adam One – leader of God’s Gardeners. Dull as dishwater.
Not my cup of tea. I persevered because the blurb promised a startling ending… hmmm…. just rated as okay for me. Read some earlier Atwood instead.