You Won’t Be MADD When You Read Atwood’s Final MADDADDAM Novel

17262203In her final installment in the MaddAddam trilogy, Margaret Atwood brings together the large cast of characters from Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Told through Toby, we learn the fate of Jimmy, Amanda, and Ren after capturing the Painballers and see how the remaining humans deal with the ever-curious Crakers, increasingly-intelligent pigoons, and survival in this post-apocalyptic world. Crake’s “perfect” new world didn’t begin as smoothly as he would have liked, and the human factor remains as a potential force to upset his intentions with the Crakers.
Continuing her flashback structure implemented in the previous novels, Atwood also tells us the history of Zeb and Adam One. Raised as brothers, the boys had a close bond not unlike that of Jimmy and Glenn. Zeb was the rebellious one, always making jokes (like Jimmy); and Adam the reserved one, always plotting (like Crake). As Zeb tells Toby about his past, we see even more connections between the characters and get some final insights into Crake’s origin’s and those of MaddAddam. It’s fascinating to see the parallels between Zeb and Jimmy’s story, and it fully paints the picture of this rich (and ever frightening) future that Atwood has developed.
Just like The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam is reminiscent of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked novels. Despite not having green skin, Toby could easily be Elphaba, speaking to bees and communing with the Crakers. Unlike Elphaba, though, Toby does not come off as wicked at all (although she does imbibe the story with the dry wit that Maguire is known for), proving herself to be the true heroine of this trilogy. (Jimmy, who is still sick for most of this novel, is more of a backseat hero.) And, just like the Wicked novels, it is sad to leave the world Atwood has created when you finish the novels. With so much more left that could be said and explored, maybe another novel could appear along the road? (And, just as unlikely, wouldn’t it be amazing to see these books adapted for television? Someone call JJ Abrams.)

This DOCTOR Won’t Put You to SLEEP

Doctor Sleep is another one of the novels this year to follow the sequel trend (see also: Revenge Wears Prada, Sycamore Row, and Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy). Stephen King returns to the world of his classic 1977 novel The Shining, picking up with the lives of Danny Torrance, his mother Wendy, and his fellow shiner Dick Hallorann. The first half of the book follows Danny’s life as he grows into a troubled alcoholic like his father. But Danny does not want to be destined to become the monster that his father was and tries to be a better man.
Doctor_SleepWe are also introduced to a new cast of characters that includes uber-shiner girl Abra and the evil yet beautiful Rose the Hat. Rose and her crew of undead shiner suckers are King’s newest terror, and after reading what they do to a helpless little boy you’ll be quite pleased that you don’t have the shining yourself. While all the characters remain more or less disconnected throughout the first half of the novel, King does a masterful job of bringing all the storylines together.
Getting through the wandering stories in that first half may feel tedious at times, but King makes up for it with the thrilling second half that I literally could not put down. It’s a rollercoaster battle between good and evil that should be familiar to readers of King’s work (and just as rewarding). If you loved The Shining (and who doesn’t?), you can rest assured that he appropriately alludes to the novel while still telling a fully new and complete story. And if you haven’t read the previous novel you will still be able to enjoy Doctor Sleep on its own. If only all sequels could be as great as this one.

HOW I LIVE NOW Is a Refreshingly Gritty WWIII Pic

Saoirse Ronan seems to be trying very hard to carve her own little niche in cinema. From Hanna to The Host to Byzantium, Ronan has been building a career as a teenage action star in dystopic/post-apocalyptic worlds. And her latest film, How I Live Now, is just another entry on that resume.
saoirse-ronan-stars-in-first-trailer-and-poster-for-how-i-live-now-142540-a-1376393033-470-75Britain is on the brink of World War Three, and American Daisy (Ronan) is forced to spend the summer at her aunt’s country home. The house is full of her rambunctious cousins—Isaac (Tom Holland), Piper (Harley Bird), and Eddie (George MacKay)—but her Aunt Penn (Anna Chancellor) has business to deal with and leaves the children alone during this turbulent time. Daisy tries to keep to herself but Isaac is keen on including her, and Eddie is so devastatingly handsome and mysterious that Daisy just can’t help herself (Isaac is also quick to mention that Eddie is adopted and thus not a blood relative, so don’t get too excited about the incestuous of it all).
When WWIII does break out, the kids take to their barn in the countryside for fear of the warring militias. A man from the American consulate offers Daisy a ticket to escape the warring nation, but after having sex with Eddie she cannot bear to part from. Tribulations soon plague them as they are separated and forced into lives of servitude and fear.
For those not jaded by the excessive YA dystopia trend, How I Live Now (based on Meg Rosoff’s 2004 novel) is much darker and adult feeling—even earning a controversial R rating. While Ronan can’t avoid repeating her performances from similar pictures, she does bring some nuance to Daisy, and her passion for Eddie is endearing instead of clichéd. This is a grittier film that feels more like The Road than World War Z, and that, more than anything, helps this film stand out in a sea of similar films.