I read Oryx and Crake quite a few years ago now. It's about what happens to the world when the eventual day comes when there are too many people & most of them are living in a horrible state. It's one of my favorite post-apocalyptic books. So imagine my surprise when I opened up this book after buying it at a grab-bag sale at the library & seeing that this is the sequel. Or rather a sort of prequel. Or maybe just the same story, but told from different characters' views. Whatever it is, I liked it.
This vision of what happens is from two women that somehow live through the "Waterless Flood"--the plague that kills most of humanity in the not-so-distant future. The first is Toby, a woman that has lived the typical brutish American life of the future--has to drop out of college because her parents can't continue to pay for it, parents pass away, & she's left fending for herself in a very unfriendly world. She works at Secret Burger, a fast food restaurant of that serves burgers made out of God-knows-what, hence the name. But after Toby's boss assaults her repeatedly, she escapes to a different world, the world of the God's Gardeners.
Ren is a young woman who was raised with the God's Gardeners for most of her young childhood. The cult/religion/survivalist group believes in being strict vegetarians & learning how to take care of themselves without any outside help. They are waiting for the "Waterless Flood" to come, when the world will be wiped clean again by God & the Gardeners will rise up & take over the stewardship of the Earth just like Noah & his family. They never write anything down, but memorize animal names & celebrate holidays like Saint Dian Fossey Day & Saint Euell Gibbons Day. Ren came here with her mother when she left her father for Zeb, a man with a shady past but who knows how to take care of himself. He teaches the Gods Gardeners how to survive on the gang-ridden violently corrupt streets & is Ren's father figure while she is young.
The action mostly takes place after the Flood has killed off most of the human population. Toby has survived by using the skills she's learned from the Gardeners & her own father. Ren has survived only because she was on quarantine at the upscale brothel she works at as a dancer. Both women flash back to how they've gotten to this point, & how they might possibly survive from this point on.
My only wish was that I'd more recently read Oryx and Crake so I could have put the puzzle pieces of this story together with the other better. But suffice it to say I enjoyed this book without having done so.
Disturbing yet hopeful, I highly recommend both books.