Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Snowman is possibly the only human left in a post-apocalyptic world.  He lives alongside the Children of Crake, who have multi-coloured skin, live entirely off vegetation no human could digest, and give off a citrus scent.  But it wasn't always like this.  Snowman used to be Jimmy, the son of a scientist who worked at a corporation specialising in splicing different parts of animals together to create entirely new beings. For example pigoons, who contain multiple organs that can be harvested simultaneously for human transplantation. Bought up in a privileged class, in a Compound away from the chaos of the rest of the world, Jimmy meets Glenn (Crake), a genius with his own ideas for the future.  Whilst Jimmy seems destined for mediocrity, Crake is head-hunted by different corporations and drags Jimmy along on his journey to the highest reaches of the biotechnology world.  Both fall in love with Oryx, a mysterious girl from the pleeblands who they first come across on a child pornography website.  Through fragments of the past, we slowly build up an account of the apocolapyse and the creation of the Children of Crake.

Wow, what a book!  Oryx and Crake had me captivated from the opening chapter and honestly, I was simply stunned by just how good and clever it was.  I could not read it fast enough and I couldn't stop thinking about the dystopian society Atwood had created, even when I wasn't actually reading it.  Take my word for it, this is an amazing, amazing book.

What makes it so good is that Atwood combines the cleverness of her dystopian society and apocalypse with a fast moving plot (that's only revealed in fragments) and interesting characters.  Little clues are sprinkled throughout the chapters and it's only when you get near the end and everything comes together that you realise just how clever the whole thing is.  There's a lot of dystopia around at the moment, but you'll be hard pressed to beat the dystopian society that Atwood creates.  I can believe that bio-technology will lead to us altering the genetic make-up of different creatures and even creating new ones altogether.  The role of the internet in society has been carried to the extreme, to the point where live executions, assisted suicide and child pornography are all readily available.  As sad as it is, this isn't too much of a stretch to believe either.  I can also believe that the privileged classes would increasingly segregate themselves in a more violent world, leaving the poorer elements of society to suffer in isolated areas.  Atwood's dystopia is mighty depressing, but it's just believable enough to make it genuinely scary.

Crake is a fabulous character too.  We see him through Jimmy's rather gullible, easily led eyes, so the clues to his real personality and motivations are few and minor.  Jimmy is a good main character in the sense that he is easy to relate to, as he isn't a distant genius like Crake.  Although Oryx doesn't necessarily add too much to the plot, the information about her past is fascinating and helps to build up our vision of the society.

What I am basically saying is that if you haven't read this book, you need to!  It took me two days and I would have done it in one, given the opportunity.  I have already informed my husband that I will be most disappointed if The Year of the Flood and Madaddam are not in my stocking come Christmas Day!  Go and read this book!

Source: Personal Copy
First Published: 2003
Score: 5 out of 5

29 comments:

  1. I don't see how I can't go and read Oryx and Crake after this review! It would be a crime not to. I know my Mum has it at home so I will be raiding her shelves next time I'm home. So pleased you enjoyed it so much!

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    1. Hope you enjoy it just as much as I did :)

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  2. I like reading dystopian fiction (when it's done well), so I don't know how I missed reading this one. Probably the title threw me off. At least I know what to look for on my next library trip. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Yes, the title doesn't give much away! Hope you enjoy :)

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    2. On most of Atwood's books that is the case, the title doesn't tell you what to expect inside, but for me it has always been worth it.

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  3. I liked this one too. It's very different from the other books of hers that I've read. I forgot to read the second one though. I will have to catch up so I can read Madaddam!

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    1. I'm keen to read both of the other books, Madaddam is supposed to be very good.

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  4. I haven't read anything by Atwood yet, but I keep thinking I should. Now I know where to start! I don't read much dystopian fiction, but I'll have to try this one.

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    1. I'd recommend this or Handmaid's Tale, both are amazing!

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    2. For a first time with Atwood, the Handmaid's tale would be a better starting point, as it will introduce yo to her style of slowly disclosing information in the form of flashbacks, with a story that is easier to relate to, then you will definitely want to come to this one.

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  5. I liked The Year of The Flood even more than Oryx and Crake, and I can't wait to read MaddAddam. I just finished reading O&C because I wanted it fresh in my mind for when I read MaddAddam. Apparently it brings together the first two books.

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    1. Your comment has made me excited to get to Year of the Flood :)

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  6. My.. You've made me very eager to read my first Atwood soon. I've been a little intimidated mostly, since she comes with strong recommendations but what if I didn't like her books? But I'm going to give a try to one of her books soon.

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    1. I've found this and Handmaid's Tale both very easy to read and super enjoyable. I have found some of her other books harder, though.

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  7. I haven't read it, but now I'm convinced that I must!

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    1. Ooh, I think you would love this one, Andi.

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  8. I was *very* depressed for some time after I finished this book, mainly because everything she writes about is just so utterly plausible.

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  9. I meant to read this one months ago in preparation for the final book in the series but never got around to it. What a shame! I love Atwood anyway, so I'm beyond positive that this book will be a major win for me. The only aspect that nags me is that the character is named Jimmy. I have a hard time reading characters with names of people I know (in this case, my husband) which is just a weird personal thing I need to get over.

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    1. I do that too, but as I'm a teacher most names in books make me feel a bit weird....I start imagining the relevant child as the main character!

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  10. "There's a lot of dystopia around at the moment, but you'll be hard pressed to beat the dystopian society that Atwood creates." Yeahhhh, I think Atwood is kind of the best at dystopias. And she's ALSO the best at not dystopias. She's the best.

    I really really like this trilogy (well, I haven't read Maddaddam yet,but I assume that'll be just as great!) so glad you do too! Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? Because... that's possibly even better!

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  11. This book was so good, I'm glad you liked it. A little hard to follow at first, but totally worth it once you get in. Year of the Flood was pretty different so I can't wait to read MaddAddam.

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  12. Heard great things about this one! Love Margaret Atwood!

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  13. I absolutely loved this book but I thought The Year of the Flood was better, you are in for a treat (again) :)

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  14. I've heard a lot of good things about this one in general, and your glowing review makes me want to pick it up soon!

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  15. I have been apprehensive about Atwood Dystopia novels after reading The Handmaid's Tale and didn't quite like it. I will now pick up this book if I ever see it in the charity bookstore again, which is QUITE often!

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  16. "Oryx and Crake" may well fall short of some readers' expectations for "a Margaret Atwood novel." But judged as an entry in the genre of science fiction, it's a powerful and visionary masterpiece.

    Mica
    Customer recommendations for Austin Towing service

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  18. I have always had a fascination with books that take on a type of apocalyptic theme. Margaret Atwood's vision of the earth's future is not a pretty sight, but it was her story of Oryx, Crake and Snowman that made the book worthwhile.

    Mariz
    Great data for Alaska Brown Bear Hunts grizzly

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