This being the last of the trilogy, I am so sad that this series is over for me. I literally cried, both because the ending was so beautiful, and because it was finished. This world is so richly imagined that, despite its horrors, I didn't want to leave it.
The first two books linger more on the lead-up to and the immediate aftermath of the great plague engineered by Crake. This one is about the beginning of the new world, with only a few surviving humans and the bioengineered post-human species Crake created to replace homo sapiens. There's quite a bit of flashback, however, particularly about Zeb, which fills in how the God's Gardener's cult, which greatly influences the survivors, came to be.
It's very difficult to describe without giving spoilers. So if you plan on reading it, which you should, stop now. I'm going to have to give some things away. Skip to the last paragraphs.
The story is mostly told through the viewpoint of Toby , who has long been in in love with Zeb. I'm not much of one for love stories, but this is a great one, between two wise, complex, experienced people. As she and Zeb finally come together, she pumps him for the story of his life, which she then relates to the bioengineered people, whom the humans call Crakers, helping them form a cosmology. The nightly ritual in which she tells them stories is a central organizing feature of the narrative. It is strange & fascinating, with odd ritual elements and droll humor.
There are a few surviving "Painballers," veterans of brutal survival games in which convicts fought each other; these are the main antagonists, although decaying technological remnants and wild animals, including some dangerous bio-engineered ones, also pose threats.
As the novel progresses, the Crakers become increasingly central, because they are the future. Also the pigoons, whom the Crakers call the Pig Ones, and with whom they can communicate: pigs that were gene spliced with humans to make them better for growing human organs, and which are very intelligent.
At the end, we see that all we have read in the previous books is being transformed into a sort of creation story, one in which only the frame remains and a new meaning is imposed, one that the Crakers can understand and make use of. It is heartbreaking to see all the meaning that is lost, but also hopeful in a strange & austere way.
I cannot imagine anyone who loves great novels not relishing this trilogy. Don't be put off by it if you don't like science fiction. It's a human story, extrapolating (not wildly but imaginatively) only on technologies which currently exist or are possible, as a way of showing us our own reflection through a troubled mirror. It is compelling, thoughtful, frightening, and beautiful.
This is storytelling at its finest.