The Year of The Flood by Margaret Atwood is about a woman named Ren who worked at a strip club called Scales and Tails. While she was working, she was locked in a “sticky room,” which is why she survived the Waterless Flood when it happened. Before the plague, she and another woman, Toby, belonged to religious group called God’s Gardeners. God’s Gardeners was a group that preached protection of the Earth and it’s animals before the plague changed everything.

A song that is relevant to The Year of The Flood by Margaret Atwood is “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. In this song, the singer speaks about waking up in a new scenery that is unknown and cruel. He describes the sensation of suddenly stepping into a world that he has to adapt to in order to survive because the environment is not what he is used to be able to survive in.

An evolutionary concept that is relevant to both the book and the song is natural selection. Natural selection is when some individuals have better traits to survive, whereas others are less advanced. The ones who are more genetically advanced are going to survive longer because they have the abilities to prolong their lives. When they die, their offspring will continue to pass down their genes allowing the future offspring to have an advantage over the competition.

On page 19, Atwood writes, “Toby’s hands are shaking. You’ve snuffed a life she tells herself. You’ve acted rashly and from anger. You ought to feel guilty.” Toby and Ren are both taught by Adam One that animals are “God’s Creatures” and that they should “never kill without just cause.” (18.) Toby feels ashamed for going against her vows as she, “…murmurs the standard Gardener words of apology. Though she doesn’t feel apologetic. Or not apologetic enough (19.)” which shows how she had to adapt to the new world. The new world made it so that she had to go against her beliefs in order to survive.

In fact, this was foreshadowed by Adam One when he said, “When the Waterless Waters rise… the people will try to save themselves from drowning. They will clutch at any straw. Be sure you are not that straw, my friends, for if you are clutched or even touched, you too will drown.” Adam was saying that in order to survive, humans need to be a little selfish in order to protect themselves and avoid becoming the weakest link. This is also shown in the evolutionary concept of survival of the fittest and when Toby killed the pigs in order to save herself and her food.

The lyrics of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons go, “I’m waking up to ash and dust / I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust, I’m breathing in the chemicals / I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus / This is it, the apocalypse,” which describes someone who is having to adapt to a new life that is unfamiliar oneself. The lyrics go on to say, “I raise my flags, don my clothes /
It’s a revolution, I suppose / We’ll paint it red to fit right in / Whoa” This part of the song is about putting up a fight in order to survive. The rest of the lyrics are, “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones / Enough to make my systems blow / Welcome to the new age, to the new age / Welcome to the new age, to the new age / Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive.” Here, the “waking up to the new age” is similar to Toby waking up to the aftermath of the plague. She becomes “radioactive” or adapted to the challenges of the new environment.

The connection between Radioactive and The Year of The Flood is that they both are about people who are encountering the new age and having to adapt to be able to survive, even if it means going against their own morals and values. Both characters are individuals who realize that you have to put yourself first and use certain tactics in order for you to be able to succeed in the long run. For example Toby has to kill the pig in order for her to keep her food, which she needed in order to survive and the main character of the song had to become radioactive to be able to survive the new age. If both of these characters would have taken a different direction, they would have become the weaker link and died off, which is a main element of natural selection.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of The Flood. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.

Imagine Dragons. Radioactive. California: Westlake Recording Studios, 2013. Web.

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons:


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