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I recently got my hands on a copy of "The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood. Reading its description on Wikipedia, I realized that it's set in the same universe as two of her other novels; "Oryx and Crake" and "MaddAddam".

Which order should the books be read in and will I miss anything important if I don't read the Oryx & Crake novel first?

  • I haven't read Year of the Flood, but I find it hard to believe that there's anything significant in the appalling mess that was Oryx and Crake. Note that this question is probably officially off-topic, as Atwood claims that she does not write SF, despite obviously doing so. – Daniel Roseman Feb 21 '13 at 10:30
  • I read <i>Year of the Flood</i> without reading <i>Oryx and Crake</i> and didn't get the impression that I was missing anything. There are some references to the events in <i>Oryx and Crake</i> near the end that might be mild spoilers for that book. I'd say go ahead. – Pixel Feb 21 '13 at 17:27
  • I've edited to reflect that it's a trilogy of books. You might as well ask the bigger question... – Valorum Jul 5 '14 at 7:34
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Atwood herself strongly suggests that the reading order of the first two novels; 'Year of the Flood' and 'Oryx & Crake' is pretty irrelevant.

She describes them as being:

"the same time period, and with some overlapping incidents and characters. But it looks at that world through different eyes... closely tied, in some ways. But a freestanding structure as well." Canadian Living Interview

As far as MaddAddam is concerned, she's keen for you to read both earlier novels first (in whichever order) as they introduce important plot elements and characters that are explored in more detail:

Many of the characters from the first two books converge at the end of The Year of the Flood; MaddAddam tells the story of what happened next. “Think of it as two roads converging,” Atwood says.National Post Interview

and

So the structure is like this peace sign in which these two [lines] end at the same point, and then the third one goes on from thereRandom House Interview

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Sorry for the late reply, but I was halfway through The Year of the Flood when you posted, and I wanted to finish the book before I replied.

Anyhow, I think you will enjoy TYOTF more if you read Oryx and Crake first. Without having read Oryx and Crake first I suspect some of the things in TYOTF will seem mystifying and rather random, and this will detract from the story.

I have to say I think Oryx and Crake is the better book by quite some way, which is another reason to read it first.

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I've recently read "Oryx and Crake", but I believe reading THIS book before "The Year of the Flood" is much...informative. This book introduces the entire time shift of the world to the disaster it is in now. (the disaster the TYOTF starts in). Think of it as a "basic knowledge" book that provides, the basic backstory/information for the entire trilogy. It introduces the cause of the apocalypse, who did it, and what the hell was going on.

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