It pains me to say it, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed the other two in the series (‘Oryx and Crake’ and ‘The Year of the Flood’). There was plenty of Atwood’s characteristic brilliance, but the book as a whole seemed to depend too much on the other two; it was set on filling in gaps rather than exploring new ground, and many of the characters were little more than names if you didn’t remember them from before. Indeed, part of the problem might have been the time that passed between my readings. I should’ve re-read the first two in anticipation of the third one, but I didn’t. The difficulty with being Margaret Atwood is that your books are always going to be compared to other books by Margaret Atwood, which is an impossible standard to meet over and over again… and criticism might seem unfair when you consider that the book is still better than the majority of books out there. All that aside, Zeb’s tale was highly entertaining and the Crakers were, are and always will be one of my favourite speculative creations. Blackbeard (and his relationship with Toby) holds the book together.
Verdict: I’d never advise against reading Atwood! Read the first two, then read this one, then let me know what you think.