This final book in the trilogy offers a hopeful conclusion to Atwood’s frankly horrific depiction of our possible future. Maddaddam is the name of an action-oriented splitoff from the God’s Gardeners cult who—together with Crake’s bioengineered “children” who survived the so-called waterless flood that wiped most of humanity off the face of Earth—drive the action of this last book.
While the Maddaddam survivors forage the ruins of their civilization for such things as tampons and flashlight batteries, they also learn how to raise a new kind of livestock, build hives, make their own clothes, and forge unusual alliances to protect themselves from the ravages of genetically-altered predators and brain-damaged killers. Some even find romance, of a sort, and the possibility of re-populating the planet anew.
The Maddaddamites’ adventures are at once terrifying and satisfying to those of us who, while wishing never to be in their shoes, are nonetheless gratified at the possibility that we are capable of re-making ourselves. I don’t especially share Atwood’s obsessive hostility to most things technological, nor do I find genetic science to be the all-encompassing evil she depicts it as. Nonetheless, she has set out to present us with a society that has lost its moral moorings, and much like George Orwell in his Brave New World, she does a scarily effective job of it. To my view, Atwood gives us an only slightly-distorted peephole into our own future, and lets us—her readers—decide whether we’re prepared to intervene now, so as to avoid having to live there tomorrow.