Trent McClellan dives into The Year of the Flood


Last year's champ returns! Trent McClellan will be our guide to the Canada Reads experience. Follow along as he blogs and tweets about the 2014 edition of CBC's battle of the books. His blog posts will appear on the Canada Reads website every week. Follow him on Twitter @Trent McClellan for his complete Canada Reads 2014 coverage.

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Hey everyone! Hope you're are all warm and well in this frozen tundra we call Canada! I have had it with winter storms and shovelling this year. Old Man Winter has been relentless. The only silver lining to this meteorological misfortune has been my Canada Reads books. I have three in the bag and this week we start our chats about the books! We start with Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood.

If I could sum up this novel in one word, that word would be "deep." This book takes on a myriad of life's big questions. The entire time I was reading this book I thought "How smart is Margaret Atwood and how stupid am I?" She combines the larger notions of religion, philosophy and politics with the primal emotions of love, fear and our relentless survival instinct. This thing was DEEP! In fairness, I think this book has to be read twice to be truly appreciated. Sadly, I have only had time to read it once.

I think what amazed me the entire time I was reading was the imagination that Atwood displayed to create this brand new, dark world. This new world is the result of man's desire to be all-powerful and to completely control their environment and it's a cold and scary place. There were so many scenes that she created where the reader has to really sit back and imagine what this world would look like. I was trying to picture the different hybrid species, the characters, and places they lived. At times, parts of this new world were difficult to visualize as there was a lot to process.

I found the philosophy of God's Gardeners very intriguing and I don't think I'll ever look at a piece of meat the same way again. Their steadfast belief that man was not the top of the food chain but merely an equal with all other living things was a very humbling reminder. The difference in philosophy between the Gardeners and the Corporation leads the reader to ask some heavy questions like: How much control should we have over the world we live in? Do we take more than we need at the expense of all other living things on this planet?

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A challenge with the book was that it was heavy with biblical references. Also, at times there seemed to be a lot of characters in play. It was difficult to keep it all straight and it affected the flow somewhat. Arguments have been made that the chaos created was needed to symbolize the chaos of the world in Atwood's story. It just seemed that there was an overwhelming amount of terminology and concepts to comprehend and my little mind struggled to keep up at times. It was jammed to the brim with information! This, mind you, was just the experience of this reader and the reading experience may have been very different for others.

I clearly see why Stephen Lewis would choose The Year of the Flood. As Canadians we are under extreme scrutiny from the rest of the world in regards to our environmental practices. We have been asked to be more conscious of our treatment of the air, soil and water we use on a daily basis and this book is really about where our priorities lie as a species. The biggest threat to our survival is not the other species we seek to control and manipulate for our own convenience. No, Margaret Atwood suggests that our greatest threat is indeed ourselves. The terrifying thought is that in order to get rid of this threat we must get rid of ourselves or at the very least our selfishness .Our relentless thirst for knowledge may ultimately leave us hungry.

The Year of the Flood was admittedly challenging at times but maybe that is exactly what it was meant to do. Perhaps it was written to make the reader feel uneasy and force him or her out of the comfort zone we all reside in.

I'm genuinely interested to see this book debated and to hear how the panelists processed all that it offered. Will this be the year that The Year of the Flood wins Canada Reads?

Trent is on tour! Check out his Live Once Comedy Tour in Ottawa, Toronto, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge and Edmonton during the month of March. Tickets are available through

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