One thing that I love about studying English academically means I am confronted with genres I wouldn’t usually consider reading. Although I have enjoyed Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy (both fiction and film), I rarely choose to read Utopian and/or Dystopian fiction.
However, in one of my modules this term we looked at Apocalyptic fiction, with particular focus upon Angela Carter’s The Year of the Flood (from the MaddAddam trilogy) and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I thoroughly enjoyed both texts and found them really engaging when applying a critical reading.
The Year of the Flood (TYofF) is the second book of Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, I haven’t read either of the others (Oryx and Crake and MaddAddam) but I certainly plan to over my summer break! Although I’m sure you will get a richer reading of TYofF if you read its prequel, I didn’t feel it was necessary in order to follow the plot. The story follows protagonists Ren and Toby, through pre-apocalypse to the post-apocalyptic environment. Through following their narratives and the interactions with the religious cult of the God’s Gardener’s and Adam One, Atwood really causes you to question if humanity is its own downfall, or if humans can ever change to survive a post-apocalyptic environment.
McCarthy’s The Road follows two unnamed characters; a father and son who are struggling to survive in the waste that is left in the world after an apocalypse. McCarthy doesn’t reveal what the apocalyptic event is, similar to the characters remaining nameless. However, I feel that the event that caused the apocalypse isn’t important. Perhaps McCarthy is offering a commentary on what becomes of humanity in times of extreme desperation.
In both instances, themes of capitalism and consumerism are particularly prevalent. I found analysing the use of these themes in both actually quite exciting, particularly considering the anxieties in our contemporary culture regarding humanities expanding consumerism and its ultimate impact on the environment.
I will definitely be re-reading these in the near future, and as I already mentioned, I can’t wait to read the other texts of the Atwood trilogy. Both books seem to offer so much that I can’t possibly absorb them all in one go!
So, the moral of this post is… DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY A DIFFERENT GENRE! I would never have read either of these books if it wasn’t for the fact they were on a module syllabus. But now I would definitely say both books make my top ten favourites! They have also spurred me on to chose a module for my MA next year which is all about Utopian and Dystopian fiction.
Thank you so much for reading! It means the world when I see people are enjoying and supporting my posts. Has this post tempted you to try a different genre or form? Have you recently discovered a new type of literature? Please let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share!