Margaret Atwood is famous for dystopic novels, including the Booker Prize-Winning The Handmaid's Tale. Fans of Atwood's won't be disappointed by The Year of the Flood, which explores environmental and Biblical themes. The characters are well developed, and they're a compelling mixture of archaic and futuristic-just like we moderns. The plot follows a religious group called the Gardeners who are waiting for what their scripture calls the Waterless Flood. While they wait, they live simply, following customs from earlier generations; they keep bees, wear top-to-toes (cloaks of a sort), celebrate saints' days, sing hymns, grow their own food (vegetarian), and heal wounds using maggots. However, many of their hymns include modern scientific concepts like DNA and evolution. We learn later in the novel that the Gardeners have been secretly using modern communications systems to keep in touch with other groups across the country. But the overall feeling of the group is of resisting modernity, sometimes to the disgust of its teenage members.
The Waterless Flood - a disease pandemic - indeed arrives. Most people are killed. Many of the Gardeners we're following survive, thanks to their old-fashioned knowledge. They're forced to interact with the Exfernal World a bit more than they'd like. However, as the novel unfolds, we learn of the many ways they've already been individually interacting with that world, often to their detriment. After the Waterless Flood, some of the Gardeners reunite and share survival stories.
The exfernals in this novel have created green rabbits and Mo'Hairs (sheep with long, soft, brightly colored fur). One of the religious groups has created a liobam to hurry the time when the lion will lie down with the lamb. (It's a member of the Peaceable Kingdom list.) But they've also wrecked the earth. They live with the horrors of rape, forced prostitution, and a wide gulf between the haves and have-nots. They're no better off than we are. The Gardeners revere the planet, and the book is framed with Adam One's sermons and the Gardeners' hymns. (A first stanza: "We praise the tiny perfect Moles/That garden underground;/The Ant, the Worm, the Nematode,/Wherever they are found.") But they keep apart from the rest of humanity and find themselves mostly impotent after the Waterless Flood.