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.

NIGHT FILM Is a Sovereign. Deadly. Perfect. Read.

Pessl_Night-FilmMarisha Pessl’s buzzed about second novel Night Film is a fantastic read for both literary lovers and film fanatics. Stanislas Cordova is a revered horror filmmaker, capturing the bleakest aspects of the human experience. When his daughter Ashley seemingly commits suicide, investigative reporter Scott McGrath is eager to prove that it was actually related to the sinister Cordova (who had disgraced him in the press previously). So begins a complex hunt into the dark world of Cordova’s night films and his family history.
Pessl incorporates mixed media articles into the pages (although not as extensively as J.J. Abrams does in S.), allowing you to really feel like your investigating this death along with McGrath. It also gives a striking verisimilitude to the story, which is further enhanced by the complex and exact descriptions of Cordova’s films that are interspersed throughout the novel. (How long until some of these night films are actually made?)
Suspense is the name of the game in Night Film, and the book nearly oozes it. By the time you reach McGrath’s stunning climactic mission into discovering Cordova’s secrets, you’ll be so engrossed in the story that you will have to read it with all the lights on (lest you be frightened by the shadows in your own room). And just when you think Pessl has lost all grasp of reality, she pulls out a few more twists to keep you questioning the story until the very end.
Night Film will keep you up into the early morning hours and then haunt your dreams whenever you finally put it down to sleep.