Maybe I was too cranky and crabby, too full of Halloween Tootsie Roll Pops and raspberry Twizzlers, to begin reading a story about the end of the world and what it's like to live in a cult and be a reluctant beekeeper, but I must honestly report that when I had finished the 420 pages of Margaret Atwood's latest, The Year of the Flood, I felt even crabbier.
The critics all love this book, so I am alone, probably, but I wanted to open a vein when Toby, the rape victim who got rescued by the God's Gardeners cult, decorated her cubicle with a room divider made from plastic twist ties.
At least she didn't have to eat any more hamburgers made out of dead people, being now among vegetarians.
I'm not being fair, because my issues get in the way: For example, when I watched "The Bourne Supremacy" and the hero was being bludgeoned with a gun handle, I kept thinking what a cute apartment he had and what a shame his designer blinds were getting blood-spattered.
In Atwood's bleak new world, there are corrupt police forces, gene-spliced life forms like sheep with human hair, pigs with human brain tissue, and, finally, an engineered virus that pretty much takes out the human population. Atwood switches perspectives from Toby the Beekeeper to Ren the exotic trapeze dancer, who's locked inside a sex club.
The Year of the Flood is creative, beautifully written, and grim. Maybe that's the truth about our human future--no cute houses, ever again.