on August 19, 2016
Not her best work but a very interesting twist on a prediction of a lemming like end to our civilization. I personally predict uncontrolled war as being more likely but choose your own dystopia. Any choice may be Trumped by others. Geographic expansion has always been our escape mechanism - Mars? I see that Ms Atwood has Pelee Island property. Personally, I would sell and retreat farther north. I recommend the world's boreal forest region, the new long grass prairie region of the new climate. Of course a few forest fires and uncontrolled migrations may be endured in the transition. That is not prediction, that is current events. I will read the next in the series.
on June 16, 2003
Simply put, I loved ORYX AND CRAKE! Despite Atwood's grim futuristic plot of 'science gone mad' I found it difficult to put this book down. The first person narration of Snowman (Jimmy) jumps between the present (a bleak world existing primarily of him and the Crakers) and the past (events leading up to the destruction of humanity) as the details of the plot are uncovered. I most enjoyed Atwood's fresh writing and awe-inspiring imagination. Although I am not a fan of the science fiction genre I loved reading about Snowman's interpretation of the end of society. Of course ORYX AND CRAKE contains many cautionary tales against gene splicing, corporations, and the power of the Internet (why aren't there any 'happy' books of the future?). Despite Atwood's bleak and dark vision of the future there is much to extract, as science can't eliminate human love and desire. The relationships between Crake, Jimmy, and Oryx are mysterious and convoluted and I wanted to learn more. I appreciated Atwood's ability to tell this tale without filling in all the details for the reader. Much is left to the reader's imagination and I wasn't annoyed by this at all. Without risking giving away anymore of the plot I will end this review by stating that I was left greatly satisfied by ORYX AND CRAKE. I remains a gem on my bookshelf.
on June 24, 2003
If you love Margaret Atwood and her writing, each time she finishes a book, you wonder how she will ever top it. The Handmaid's Tale, which Oryx and Crake is most frequently compared to, is one of her finest work. I am an ardent Atwood scholar and have read all her works. Having seen mixed reviews in the media about Oryx and Crake, I was somewhat afraid to start reading it, particularly because it is somewhat in the same genre as The Handmaid's Tale (a brilliant book and one of my favorite books of all time.) An author's streak of genius can't last forever, and I was waiting for the sun to set on Margaret Atwood.
This novel isn't as bad as the worst reviews promise, but not as good as the best claim. It's set on an intruiging premise, and although it took a little longer to get engrossed in Oryx and Crake than in some of her other work, it moves along at a nice and quite horrifying trot, pulling you in with the almost-recognizable familiarity of bio-engineered events. You like Snowman/Jimmy, it's just that....well, who exactly is the bad guy here? And maybe that's the point. In today's world, with PR spin and ducking politicians, there is no great antagonist we're struggling against--which would make life much clearer.
I noticed that Atwood's writing seemed a little less compelling, acute and participatory than in previous novels. Perhaps the writing reflects the detachment and bemusement of Snowman himself. Although what happens is shocking, it is relayed in a very methodical, non-emotional way.
The best thing about the book was the last few chapters--they surprised me, causing me to think for a lengthy period of time after I'd closed the book. In fact, that night I had very troubled dreams about the subject matter of destruction and a single person's capability for such in today's advanced world. It's been a long time since a book's premise made it into my dreams, so although it may not have gripped me with iron claws in the beginning, I suppose Oryx and Crake got me in the end.
on June 13, 2003
Well, I couldn't put this one down, but at the same time I can't really say that I was entertained by it. What a bleak, miserable and pessimistic future Atwood envisions. Scientifically complex and literally complex, Atwood is raising the all important question of "what if the scientific tools that we have today are misused, and how far down the road do we have to go before things start to go terribly wrong?" I'm a big fan of Atwood's work, but I have to say that this novel is not one of my favourites, although I DID read The Handmaid's Tale years ago and absolutely loved it. Those who say that Oryx and Crake is a science fiction novel are missing the mark; it's actually speculative fiction - taking a world that is familiar to us now and hypothesizing on an incredible outcome. Atwood raised lots of issues in this book - genetics, and gene splicing, sexuality, popular culture, environmental destruction, the existence of god, STD's, diseases, globalization and the fate of human societies. This is not a "heavy" read but certainly a provocative one. I found the preamble with Snowman's encounter with the Crakers a little tedious, but the story really gets going when we start flashing back to Jimmy and Crake. I really liked the way Atwood keeps giving you hints throughout and keeps you wondering what catastrophe actually struck society, and how Snowman ends up in this situation. The scenes when Jimmy goes to work in the Compound are chilling in their realistic detail and it's the sort of story that gives you bad dreams at night!
This is a good read, and also a very depressing vision of our future!
on August 4, 2016
Have yet to read book 2 and 3 in the trilogy. Piqued my interest from the beginning. Not a new idea about a dystopian society but an interesting concept relating to who lives on after a disaster. Good read.
on April 1, 2014
Oryx and Crake is the story of Snowman who lives alone in a post-apocalyptic world where the coastal cities of North America are under water, and strange animals roam free. Flashbacks show us how Snowman came to be the last survivor of his kind after an epidemic killed the rest of the human race. At first, I must say that I was a little put off by the main character and narrator, Snowman. I didn’t particularly like him: he is an anti-hero, full of flaws. He is lazy and cowardly, and he doesn’t have much qualms about betraying his friends. But then, as the story progresses, I couldn't help but wonder what I would have done in the same situation. And the scary part of the book is that Margaret Atwood based her speculative fiction on real breakthroughs in genetic engineering. So the future of Oryx and Crake might become our future in a few decades…
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If there were more than 5 stars available, this book would have received all of them.
For those readers who are seeking identity with a given character or are needing each character to be fully developed, this is not a reality based book. You have to realize that this is a text of symbolism, not a 'fact and event' piece of fiction and, being so, it is what the text fully symbolizes and not the depth of the characters that really matters. The author has put out all the necessary factors to not only have this be a riveting story in its own right, but a possible foreshadowing of the future which may lie before us. The elements are the artificial defining of citizenry through intellectual abilities, the physical vs. rational potions of society, the power and control of the drug and biological companies and what happens when a mentally imbalanced person is placed in administrative charge of reality.
The book will leave the astute reader with a series of questions that he/she must ask about the life they see around them. Are we doing everything possible to not put humanity in a similar situation? How would I have done things differently if I were the Snowman? and What qualities did the Crakers exhibit that should be encouraged in our society? These are but a few. Read and enjoy..........
on November 27, 2009
"Oryx and Crake" is an amazing, thought provoking piece of literature. This book was wonderful not only for its addictive plot, but also for the philosophical questions it raised regarding an 'ideal' human nature. I had read "The Year of The Flood" previous to this and thought that the book was an absolutely amazing piece of driven, purposeful literature, but "Oryx and Crake" is truly the better of the two books. Initially, I thought that "Oryx and Crake" was not going to compare to "The Year of The Flood" because the latter book seemed so intricate and weaving, but as more was revealed to the nature of 'Paradice' and the creation of a 'perfect' being, I found that "Oryx and Crake" addressed pressing issues of existence more contemplatively, though, admittedly, not directly. If you are looking for a book where everything is black and white, this is not it, and in literature things rarely are. Read this book if you wish to be intellectually challenged, but at the same time wish to read something that isn't dry or out of touch with contemporary ethical and moral issues.
Reason for Reading: Atwood has a new book coming out in September '09 which, while not a sequel to this one, is set in the same world and could be called a parallel novel. So I decided I should read this one first.
Comments: Humankind has been wiped out as far as we know and Snowman lives in a tree, to keep safe from the genetically altered predator animals and is the guardian over the new race of genetically created "people". Snowman alternately tells of the life he leads now with the story of his past and how "the end of the world" came to be.
It is an incredibly realistic version of a possible future that really is frightening to think about. Science has become God and anything that it can do it will do. Society encourages s*xual pursuits, body altering procedures, mind altering substances, reality TV to the extreme and all this without any morals or ethics. Any crackpot who may raise such an issue is pooh-poohed with a wave of the hand and dismissed as an insignificant insect. This is a world that in many ways we can see our own world now easily becoming. Very scary stuff.
A powerful book. Written with Atwood's usual mastery of narrative. A real-page turner and time takes on a different dimension as you read and suddenly look up and notice *that* much time has gone by already. Written only 6 years ago now, this already has become a classic of the dystopia genre and a must read for serious readers of such.
on December 10, 2004
An interesting comment came from panellist Zsuzsi Gartner during the Canada Reads 2004 debate on CBC Radio. I won't apply quotation marks as I'm sure my memory has paraphrased it instead of verbatim, but she said that good novels shouldn't be hermetically sealed. With the exception of fantasy novels, I agree with this comment (after looking up what she meant in the dictionary).
Canada Reads 2005 contender, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is not fantasy and depending on how paranoid (revision: conspiracy-minded) you are, may not even be science fiction. And in accord with Ms. Gartner's adage, it isn't hermetically sealed. Great futuristic novels, like 1984 and Brave New World , speak as much about the time in which they were written- the fears and concerns of the society's psyche- as they do of a vision of the future. Oryx and Crake is a great futuristic novel. While it does not concern itself with censorship and overt governmental control (like the aforementioned classics), it does speak of underlying fears of our present society. Voyeurism via the internet, company-created gated communities, global warming, and especially genetic engineering are all themes addressed in this book.
While different in themes perhaps than the works of Orwell and Huxley, Atwood isn't always full of original ideas in this book. The naming of Crake's children after famous historical leaders is straight out of Clone High. Maybe Atwood was paying homage to the cartoon, maybe she had never heard of it, or maybe it was buried not-so-deep in her subconscious a la George Harrison and the Chiffon's He's So Fine. Who knows? The joke was old from the get-go for me because of the cartoon, and that's unfortunate. It doesn't stop at Clone High. Atwood also recycles some of her own ideas. Snowman's obsession with old words is a little too reminiscent of the character in The Robber Bride who had an annoying habit of reading words backwards. As an author, I'm sure Ms. Atwood must love words, but reading lists of them on their own got very tedious for me.
However, the original ideas in Oryx and Crake outnumbered the unoriginal and that salvaged the book in my opinion. The moral issues arising out of Atwood's futuristic novel caused me to stop and ponder quite often. For instance, the whole idea of Chickie Nobs. What would they mean to the animal rights activists and vegetarians? Very intriguing.
The character of Snowman was also very interesting. Here is a very clichéd male, with mother issues, attempts at communication through sex, and a protective instinct towards females. If there was such a thing as a masculinist, he'd be protesting loudly about this one. However, every intelligent person knows that sometimes people do fit stereotypes and it's refreshing that Atwood doesn't steer away from it out of political correctness. In previous books I've found some of her characters a little too eccentric to be believable, but that is not the case with the main character here.
One thing I didn't quite get in this novel was the ubiquitous cat imagery. My theory about why she puts in so many feline references, comes from a documentary I once saw. Unlike most domesticated creatures, it said, cats have retained almost all of their natural instincts and behaviours. Even more than dogs. Maybe this relates somehow. I'm not sure, nor do I feel Atwood adequately spells it out. I'd suggest that maybe she felt doing so would be too blatant, but a page near the end spells out everything else (unnecessarily and frustratingly so), so why avoid the explanation for the cats?
Oryx and Crake is a good read. It's probably, at least out of those that I've read, one of the best out there that addresses the concerns of today. Therefore, it wouldn't be a bad pick as the winner of Canada Reads 2005. It is not however, flawless and it is not Atwood's best (nor worse) novel. It did keep me interested and it did make me question today's society and where it's headed. Thought-provoking and entertaining; it's at least part of what I look for in a book.