Monday, June 28, 2010

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Published: 2003
Pages: 374
Genre: Science fiction, dystopian
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy book 1
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. (from back of book)
This book was generously given to me by Marce from Tea Time With Marce. I'd really like to thank her, because I've once again discovered a great book trilogy. Having read multiple books by this author, I was bracing myself for something strange with Oryx and Crake.

Despite my anticipation, I was not prepared for the insanely crazy yet oddly realistic world that Atwood created in this book. I was immersed in a world where families live in secured compounds, "pigoons" are genetically made to grow organs, strange wolf-dog hybrids (called a "wolvog") roams the earth, and a synthetically made plague killed off most of the human population. It was very weird, but incredibly fascinating and, ironically enough, not that far-fetched at all.

The characters in this book are so interesting, and I say that in the most literal sense of the word. Snowman comes across as a negative, depressed guy. But once we learn of his past and all the events that lead up to this assumption, it's understandable. Crake, the science genius, is too mysterious for words. His seemingly twisted ideology of the world is disturbing, but, at the same time, brilliant. I wasn't sure whether he was to be trusted or not - what fun! Oryx is probably the most incomprehensible character of all. She ressembles a young girl Snowman and Crake saw in their childhood, and is innocent and naive in adulthood. Just who is she?

I must say, though, that this book isn't straightforward in the least. It jumps around, it's vague, it's confusing, it's strange. That's why I love it! It's one of those books that would make no sense if all the information was laid out on a silver platter. Its strength is in its ability to force the reader to think in other ways and other perspectives.

As for writing style, it seems Atwood has drifted away from her exquisite imagery and eloquent language to focus more on the character/plot aspects. That's not to say that she has written this book badly - not at all! It was still a complete pleasure to read, but I don't feel the writing compares to that of, say, Cat's Eye. To tell you the truth, I was oblivious to this until I finished the book and was reflecting back on what I just read. In no way does it spoil the book.

On the whole, Oryx and Crake feels like a whole new level of literature. It's scary, crazy, fantastic, and wonderful. The next time I go to the library, can you guess what I'll be looking for? The sequel, of course: The Year of the Flood.

Recommendation: Atwood lovers won't want to miss this book. If you're not a fan already, and you're willing to try something new (that might scare you a bit), consider Oryx and Crake.


Brenna said...

This has been sitting on my nightstand for about 3 months. I've been meaning to get around to it as I loved the Handmaids Tale. Thanks for the review!

Aths said...

This is one that I will definitely be reading. I love crazy books! Glad you recommend it too!

Hannah Stoneham said...

thank you so much for sharing your thoughts - I am an Atwood fan and will read this one (I have had it for years but never gotten around to it). i agree with you totally that there is something strangely not-far-fetched about her work - even though i can't quite explain why!

Emidy said...

Brenna - If you liked The Handmaid's Tale I'm sure you'd like this even more.

Aths - Crazy is good! Glad you want to read it.

Hannah - That's so true! You should read it soon.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

I am so glad that you loveed it. I felt a bit like I was on a roller coaster with this one. Whilst I was reading it I just wanted to get off, but I couldn't. And then when it was over I had this hit of adreniline, and though "I wnt to do that again!"

Nymeth said...

It's lovely to see you enjoying Atwood so much :)

Emidy said...

Becky - Haha, that's a great way to put it! I didn't want it to end.

Nymeth - Oh yes, I can't get enough!

Juju at Tales of said...

Great review!
I like the cover :)

Lauren said...

I've never heard of this one before, but now with your (awesome) review I think I'll be looking for it the next time I'm at the library.