Another plague

This is the end of the world: an economy based on tech and entertainment; the natural world replaced by such genetically modified wonders as “liobams” (lions crossed with lambs), pigs that grow human organs and oil to run cars that comes from processing human remains. Atwood’s previous excursion into this dystopian near-future was Oryx and Crake; its main characters make cameos here as she focuses, instead, on the fate of people with fewer resources. The world’s in a strange place when religious fanatics—the back-to-the-earth cult known as “God’s Gardeners”—are the most reasonable people around. Like its predecessor, The Year of the Flood details the last few years of our culture before an engineered plague wipes out most of humanity; it is a different perspective that offers a tad more hope for survival of our best selves. As always, Atwood has written a beautifully and disconcerting story of a future that might yet be, unless we change our ways.