I'm a big fan of Margaret Atwood and the dystopias she creates. When I picked up The Year of the Flood, I didn't realize at first that it was a sequel to one of my favorite books (not only by Atwood, but in general), Oryx and Crake. Now, you can read TYOTF on it's own, it does stand alone, though it may be bizarre at times, and you will most certainly miss out on some inside stuff. You can read it on its own, but I would highly recommend picking up both. Here's why:Atwood is a master of tone and voice. Nowhere is it more evident than here, in The Year of the Flood. She is able to weave together two stories from two very different people, in two different tenses (Ren in first person, Toby in third) and she blends them together effortlessly. She makes it feel so natural to switch back and forth between the two, and works in their experiences and connections and lives seamlessly, juggling it all expertly.Everything in TYOTF is so visual and present and real. The world she has created in Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood is some of the most memorable and full dystopia I have ever read. All of her bases are covered: the human element, the natural/animal element and the environmental/ecological, the political, the financial, the religious -- everything has been thought of and everything has a part to play to build a world that will creep under your skin and take hold.There's a great amount of tension and "what next"ness. It's one of those books that you sometimes want to put down and think about what you just read, while at the same time, you don't want to let it out of your hands. She has an uncanny ability to write about the worst in humanity in the most grimly believable way, and yet show you glimpses of what's best about humanity; you know there's a bright lining, if only somebody could get at it. You end up caring so much about these people and what happens to them; you want so much for the bad guys to get theirs and the good guys to come through safe and whole. But at the same time, Atwood lets you have precious few illusions; it is dystopia, after all.And I really don't know how to say more than this without giving something away. There are so many layers to unpeel to get at the heart of this book, and it is well worth multiple readings. I only hope there's more. And that I don't have to wait too long for it.