BOOK REVIEW: ORYX AND CRAKE BY MARGARET ATWOOD

ORYX & CRAKE

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: ORYX AND CRAKE

AUTHOR: MARGARET ATWOOD

PAGES: 378

PUBLISHER: ORION BOOKS

YEAR: 2003

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION

COVER TYPE: HARD BACK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oryx_and_Crake

http://margaretatwood.ca

Oryx and Crake is a library book. It’s the third Atwood novel I’ve read.  Oryx and Crake is the first part of the Maddaddam trilogy. I read the second novel, The Year of the Flood a few months ago. I’ve also read A Handmaid’s Tale.

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining…

EXTRACT

Snowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.

 

REVIEW

Oryx and Crake blew my mind. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read in ages. I adored every word Atwood wrote. I now need to read book three of the trilogy, Maddaddam. Oh and everything else Atwood has ever written.

I love the way Atwood structures Oryx and Crake. She uses a non-linear narrative. The plot moves back and forth in time. In the sections set in the present, Snowman searches a wasteland for food following a terrible event that wiped out most of the world’s population. He is slowly starving to death. He recalls his past when his name was Jimmy. In the sections set in the past, Snowman recalls his childhood and the events that led up to the destruction of most of humanity except for him and a group of genetically engineered people created by Snowman’s now deceased best friend, Crake. I like how Atwood drips feeds you the story of Oryx and Crake in small amount. This compelled me to read on and see how it all came together. Using this structure means you don’t find out exactly what happened to the rest of humanity until almost the end. Atwood creates a lot of tension and suspense this way.

The characterisation was spot on in Oryx and Crake. Snowman is one of the best characters I’ve read in years. His voice was haunting, addictive. I felt a real connection to him. I spent so much time inside his head and seeing things from his perspective I really felt like I was inside his skin. I found it fascinating how different Snowman was to the boy called Jimmy he had been. Oryx and Crake are shown through Snowman’s representation of them. This is subjective because Snowman could be intentionally creating the impression he wants of them. They are also well drawn. I liked how Jimmy and Crake clashed. Jimmy isn’t very smart and Crake is a brilliant, gifted genius. Their friendship is unlikely and I found it a little creepy especially since it leads to the end of the world. Oryx is a minor character is hardly on the page. Jimmy first sees her when she is a child taking part in an Asian porn movie he watches with Crake. Years later, Crake hires her as a prostitute and as a teacher to the group of genetically engineered people he creates. Despite her small role I found her riveting.

I loved the sense of place Atwood creates in Oryx and Crake. Oryx and Crake is set in the future in a desolate, dystopian world where most of civilisation has been wiped out. The reason for this is not revealed until almost the end. Snowman wanders this dying world in search of food, water and shelter. Atwood creates brilliant, stark images of this world that stayed in my mind long after I turned the page. I could perfectly visualise everything. I found the world in Oryx and Crake instantly memorable and frighteningly real. I could easily believe the bleak future she creates.

I was fascinated by the dystopian future Atwood creates in Oryx and Crake. Genetic engineering features a lot in the novel. Atwood introduces us to some weird and wonderful creations. Among them are Pigoons, pigs that can grow ears and other body parts. As these body parts are removed they regenerate. Wolvogs, a sort of nasty cross between a wolf and a dog. I really liked the fact that some elements of the dystopian future offered in Oryx and Crake creepily echo current society. I also liked the references to God’s Gardeners from The Year of the Flood.

I found the last fifty of so pages of Oryx and Crake incredibly sad. Snowman sets out on a quest to find food before he starves to death. He returns to the corporation where he worked with Crake. Atwood reveals exactly why the world went to hell and how Snowman and Crake’s creations are the last of civilisation. I found Crake’s madness and the demise of him and Oryx incredibly sad. I also found it heart-breaking to discover why Crake’s creations (the Children of Crake) believe Crake and Oryx are gods they worship and Snowman is their voice. There is a hopeful ending as Snowman prepares to meet other people the Children of Crake have reported seeing camped nearby.

I wonder if Maddaddam, the last book in the trilogy follows directly on from Oryx and Crake or The Year of the Flood or falls somewhere in between. I have reserved a copy from the library.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Up next: Another Country by Anjali Joseph. This is a library book.  

ANOHER COUNTRT

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