A grim future lies ahead for the population in this dystopian tale, and much of it is about the “waterless flood,” a much predicted and prepared for event by the characters of The Year of the Flood: A Novel. The story is set in some unnamed time in the future.

Through flashbacks, we learn the stories of some of these characters: Toby and Ren, the Adams, the Eves, and as we enter their perspective, we can feel the fear, the isolation, and in some ways, the acceptance of what their lives are like. The grimness of the society is like a nightmare, but, just as we cannot stop staring at a train wreck, we cannot take our eyes away from it. At the same time, we also can sense their spirituality and feeling of community, developed during the years of preparation for the pandemic.

Stepping into their world is a bit surreal, with new rules and new names for familiar objects. Not to mention the genetic manipulations to create new animals and even new people.

The God’s Gardeners cult figures prominently throughout the story. The younger characters find ways to enjoy their lives, despite the limitations they face. And in the end, another group, the MaddAdams, brings about some of the genetic manipulations that show us new possibilities.

I had to keep reading, because I was caught up in the fates of these people, especially Toby and Ren. And Atwood does grip the reader with how beautifully she shows the lives of the characters. But I was glad when it came to an end, as even with the few glimmers of hope that shone through, there was so much uncertainty, fear, and death. Thus I am awarding four stars.



After a virulent strain called blue pox kills a large portion of the population, leaving only a core of older people and very few young ones, a band of strong women form a commune on a Tennessee college campus, determined to rebuild their lives and rely on one another.

Narrated in first person voice by eighteen-year-old Madison, Obsolete is all about what can happen in a world ravaged by disease, especially when the power structure is recreated in such a way that one gender is in control of the other. In this commune of women, ruled by Katherine, a kindly but strong woman, and her harsh sidekick Callie, it soon becomes apparent that the thirst for power has created a new kind of evil in this community that was supposed to be a strong but kinder world.

What happens to change Madison’s feelings about the commune? How does a new ruling about “using” men for the purposes dictated by those in charge shift the loyalties within the community and create a kind of civil war?

I very quickly engaged with Madison and Jonah, who has been “chosen” by Callie for nefarious purposes, rooting for their happiness, even as they struggled to find a way out of their situation.

In the end, I was happily settling into an idyllic oasis with them, but the enemies hover nearby, reminding us of the constant danger. Since this is the first in a series, I am eager to follow Madison, Jonah, and their friends as they continue striving for the freedom to make their own choices. Five stars.