If you read this blog you know we believe firmly in respecting genre. That is, you don’t look down on fantasy or sci-fi or crime novels or historical fiction simply because of their shelfmates. You look down on them if they’re bad, or enjoy them if they’re good. Or, in the case of things like Blood Oath, you enjoy them because they’re deliciously, outstandingly terrible. But they stand on their own.
And that’s the center of my only quibble with Margaret Atwood’s three-part tale of eco-pocalypse and corporate destruction, which ends with MaddAddam. Like Oryx & Crake and The Year of The Flood, her latest is beautifully imagined, full of complex characters and a storyline that comes together nicely. Even the chimerical animals and post-human theology of the Crakers is believable. It’s by turns funny and sexy and sad and terrifying.
But it seems to me that Atwood doesn’t really respect the genre of marketing, and it shows in the way she uses puns and rhyme in the names of products and businesses she’s trying to mock. In her novel, all of the colleges of humanities and social sciences have become a talent farm for marketing agencies. But the best they can do is name their businesses things like ANooYoo and HotTots and HappiCup? I don’t buy it.
Bookdwarf doesn’t agree with me. She says the names are deliberately silly, and she enjoyed them. It may be true, but they jarred me out of my suspension of belief just a little bit every time I came across them.
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I read and reviewed the Hangman’s Daughter and I found the same thing – sort of. There was a use of phrases like “not bite the hand that feeds you” and “in any case” which was jarring because those weren’t even in use in the mid 1600’s. It might have been the translator’s doing, though, and not the author. Still, it was hard to stay in the book when those things popped up.