Oryx and Crake: A Novel

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In Oryx and Crake, a science fiction novel that is more Swift than Heinlein, more cautionary tale than "fictional science" (no flying cars here), Margaret Atwood depicts a near-future world that turns from the merely horrible to the horrific, from a fool's paradise to a bio-wasteland. Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy) sleeps in a tree and just might be the only human left on our devastated planet. He is not entirely alone, however, as he considers himself the shepherd of a group of experimental, human-like creatures called the Children of Crake. As he scavenges and tends to his insect bites, Snowman recalls in flashbacks how the world fell apart.

While the story begins with a rather ponderous set-up of what has become a clich®¶d landscape of the human endgame, littered with smashed computers and abandoned buildings, it takes on life when Snowman recalls his boyhood meeting with his best friend Crake: "Crake had a thing about him even then.... He generated awe ... in his dark laconic clothing." A dangerous genius, Crake is the book's most intriguing character. Crake and Jimmy live with all the other smart, rich people in the Compounds--gated company towns owned by biotech corporations. (Ordinary folks are kept outside the gates in the chaotic "pleeblands.") Meanwhile, beautiful Oryx, raised as a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, finds her way to the West and meets Crake and Jimmy, setting up an inevitable love triangle. Eventually Crake's experiments in bioengineering cause humanity's shockingly quick demise (with uncanny echoes of SARS, ebola, and mad cow disease), leaving Snowman to try to pick up the pieces. There are a few speed bumps along the way, including some clunky dialogue and heavy-handed symbols such as Snowman's broken watch, but once the bleak narrative gets moving, as Snowman sets out in search of the laboratory that seeded the world's destruction, it clips along at a good pace, with a healthy dose of wry humor. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

Margaret Atwood's classic novel The Handmaid's Tale is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed.
As the story opens, the narrator, who calls himself Snowman, is sleeping in a tree, wearing a dirty old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beautiful and beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. In a world in which science-based corporations have recently taken mankind on an uncontrolled genetic-engineering ride, he now searches for supplies in a wasteland. Insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the Pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is Snowman left with nothing but his bizarre memories — alone except for the more-than-perfect, green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster? He explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes — into his own past and back to Crake’s high-tech bubble dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.With breathtaking command of her shocking material and with her customary sharp wit and dark humor, Atwood projects us into an outlandish yet wholly believable space populated by characters who will continue to inhabit your dreams long after the last chapter. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers.

Customer Reviews:

  • Must read.
    Go out and read this now. This book is fabulous. The writing is superb and got me to read other Atwood, which I would recommend of anyone interested in good, strong literature. It's got a futuristic theme which is done incredibly well and the characters are extremely fun to read.

    A must read. ...more info
  • Raises more questions than gives answers
    Oryx and Crake isn't bedtime reading (or bathtub reading for that matter). It's the same cold, calculation of the speculative future as seen in Handmaid's Tale. It's not so much inspiring as disturbing. After reading this, I'm ready to go back to Frances Mayes' "A Year in the World," where everything's pretty and nice and friendly.

    One can take this novel at face value: Atwood really thinks the world will turn this way, that humans will value life less and less, that genetic engineering will overtake the world and bring us to our end. Some may think her reactionary. As a huge fan of Star Trek, which presents the future in a much more positive light, I prefer to see her using this situation--the creation of a world not too different from ours, where the obsession with beauty and immortality brings us to our end--to illustrate fundamental human values, and the implications of their loss. As she stated, it's not science that's the issue, it's the human view of science, the human application of science to our lives.

    "Snowman," Jimmy, survived the End of the World to guard the "Children of Crake," the genetically engineered human beings, complete with their own citrus-oil insect repellant, loss of true love and "pair-bonding" tendencies, loss of violence, and total docility. Crake is a genius--top of his class at a Compound high school, goes on to a prestigious institute nicknamed "Asperger's U" and becomes a toptoptop official working on a toptoptop secret project (the Children) which will make ssoooo much money. Crake and Jimmy become friends in high school--both, are, in a sense, completely souless and empty shells. They are foils to each other. Jimmy searches for meaning in his lover and tawdry affairs, Crake simply abandons the search--if, indeed, he ever attempted it. The beatiful Oryx, the eternal mystery, completes the love triangle, though I'm still contemplating her full purpose in the story.

    This book is full of satire. Some complain about the constant introduction of new words--"BeauToxique," "pleeblands," "HelthWyzer," "CorpSeCorps," but, as a word person myself, like Jimmy, I find it amusing and very reminiscient of Handmaid's Tale. The irony I most enjoy is that Jimmy, mediocre and empty, is the only person he knows who survived the final crash--not the geniuses. But Jimmy, the wanderer who majored in Problematics. Another ironic note: the search for immortality kills us all in a very ugly manner.

    Everyone will draw something different from this book--the sign of a masterful writer. Some will note paranoia over diseases, others, like myself, noted the race to evolve and adapt faster than the enemy (Jimmy knows that he can't throw stones at the wolvogs forever, soon, they'll learn it's not always a threat), or that the degradation of human life begins with the degradation of animals into research vessels--not meat or milk or cheese, but muscle and nerve to be manipulated.

    I've always wished I could have read The Handmaid's Tale in the "time" it was meant to be read, during the growth of conservatism (worldwide) in the 80s. Atwood is a writer of the time--and this time, she's writing for us, we, the searchers of the Fountain of Youth, on the slippery slope of medical ethics....more info
  • Readable but not great
    The first 120 pages or so of this book really dragged and were vague. When I came to understand why the author was named Snowman things got better. As more and more of the story develops things become clearer, but I was irritated by having to slog through the beginning of the book without knowing what was going on. The book got more and more implausible and I was sick of it by the end. While some of the ideas were engaging I didn't really like the execution of this book. I loved The Handmaid's Tale, enjoyed much of Lady Oracle, and enjoyed less of this book. I think I've had it with Margaret Atwood....more info
  • Great read
    If you want similar books check out "Darwin's Radio" by Greg Bear, and Octavia E. Butler's books, especially "Parable of the Sower."...more info
  • A mad-scientist tale, scary in its implications ...
    In the not-so-distant future, geneticists play god in this disturbing novel about the end of mankind--or at least the end of humans, as we know them now.
    I enjoyed Oryx and Crake, an elegantly written mythopoeic tale about a single human survivor in a world where a strange plague has killed all Homo sapiens. Sound familiar? On the surface, the theme is very familiar. But once you open the cover and begin to read, it is only too apparent that this is a very different kind of story that harks back to the beginning of human civilization, and the origins of mythology-making.
    If you are looking for a post apocalyptic horror story filled with either brain-eating zombies or bloodthirsty vampires, then move on and leave this book on the shelf.
    But if you are looking for a futuristic and provocative mythos, told in the style of the classic Greek tragedies, Margaret Atwood's literary Oryx and Crake will not disappoint you.

    ...more info
  • night light reading, but the ending is the big payoff...
    I have to admit that I was not 100% enjoying myself the entire time I read this book, however, once I finished it and all of the loose ends were tied up nicely I was floored. This book was fantastic! This woman's imagination is an awesome place to visit (from afar). This book can be very dark at times and you will hear things and ideas that you have never heard of before (and might never want to hear about again) and at my age, even though I'm in my late 20's, that still doesn't happen very often. As crazy as Atwood's imagination is....you can still picture all of the events in the book actually happening!!! I would definitely recommend this book with a warning...not light reading, but totally worth it. This was my first introduction to Atwood and I am planning on reading all of her books! I'm reading Cat's Eye now....more info
  • Chilling as heck
    So its about a world, where everyone is obsessed with computers and no one really talks to each other except on the internet and everyone is sick because everyone is eating food full of antibiotic's and chemicals and lives in these compounds where the government watch everything and controls everything.
    This is just he problems for the rich. The poor people live in the polluted earth and are left in a cesspool of danger and disease.Prostitution is rampant.Until a guy gets sick of this crap makes himself god and destroys everything and tries to starts over....more info
  • Need Jumper Cables, But Runs Fine.
    I'll start off with a qualifying statement; I really enjoyed this book. It's well written, I find the characters interesting, and the book doesn't intellectualize to the points that you become disinterested.

    Atwood essentially paints a stark picture of a society not far advanced from our own where medical and genetic research represent the strongest economical and political forces at play. It's written from the point of view of a emotionally stunted man who survives the catastrophic events that occur.

    One of the primary critiques of this book is that the characters are kind of flat. While this holds true for most of the characters, Crake is actually a fairly complex individual. I feel that the one-dimensional feel of the other characters is actually a conscious decision on the part of the author to underline the basic nature of the society she's describing.

    It's difficult to feel a sense of horror at the destruction of this society because it's already depicted as something not particularly worth saving. This is probably intentional. Even Oryx, ostensibly the most sympathetic character in the book, doesn't particularly engage the reader. The story of her life, one of sexualized exploitation, is both repulsive and alluring. Nonetheless, you don't feel a particularly strong connection to the character, and her role as a key player doesn't really fit very well with the overall story.

    The science is neat, if pretty derivative. The irony that pigoons, genetically engineered cattle and organ growers, come to view people as a food source is a pretty common theme in science fiction, and the idea that drug companies are developing diseases and cures as part of their business cycle is hardly original. What I found more interesting was the role of industrial sabotage in innovation. Intellectual elitism, political disenfranchisement, and the decline of literacy are all present as indicators of a fallen society.

    The book begins weakly. The introduction confuses the reader because of the alien nature Crake's creation and the protagnist, 'Snowman', are presented in a confusing, disjointed context. I know this is an attempt to establish a basic premise of immense change, but the execution really distracts the reader more than adds to the story. The heir apparents to humanity are a little too odd. It's difficult to decipher whether the animal habits and characterists genetically engineered into the Childern of Oryx and Crake are meant possess meaning or establish the genre. Once you get over the intial bump in the beginning, the story takes off.

    The most interesting character, and really the biggest reason to read the book, is Crake. He's really the key figure in the book, and I don't really want to talk about him because doing so kind of negates the greatest strength of this book. Suffice it to say, he goes a long way in offsetting many of the weaker aspects of this book. He's more complex than you think.

    This isn't Atwoods best work, but it's a good, entertaining read. I recommend it....more info
  • Absolutely phenomenal
    This is my favorite book of all time.

    Others have explained the story, but it is Atwood's writing here that makes it so brilliant. Her ability to breathe life and death into every scene, to make every page an island of consciousness, is what makes Oryx & Crake such an utterly spectacular read. I was spellbound from the second chapter, and by the end I couldn't read fast enough for my racing mind to keep up. The story itself is well-done, if simple, but it is the complexity of characters, the sheer beauty of Atwood's images, and the startling conclusions one draws upon finishing that lead me to recommend this as one of the masterpieces of modern literature. Having read most of the classics of this genre (from 1984 to Stranger in a Strange Land to (of course) Brave New World, I can honestly say I have never been as thoroughly blown away by a book from start to finish as I was with this one.

    I wish I could read it again for the first time....more info
  • Should have been much, much better
    I like Atwood, and Oryx and Crake is well-written. That said, this book is nowhere near as good as it should be, and if you read science fiction regularly you'd do well to avoid it.

    The problem is that it takes a standard dystopian plot--man plays God, destroys world (intentionally this time)--of the standard genetic-engineering-gone-mad subvariant and stretches it out over 440 pages for no good reason. There's lots of bells and whistles, but there's not much to it: in a post-near-apocalyptic world where massive floods have destroyed all large low-lying cities and meat is a fantastically expensive delicacy, the heavily consumerist population seeks eternal youth and joy through the use of organ farms and designer drugs. At the same time, nutcases keep releasing killer viruses that threaten all of humanity and are kept at bay only through the use of newer and better vaccines and treatments--except the pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs are also producing the viruses and releasing them so that they can profit from the cures! Oh, no! And, what's more, one rogue scientist has gone that final step and produced a new kind of human, one that suffers none of the moral failings of homo sapiens, as well as the worst plague of all! Then most everyone dies due to that final, terrible plague, leaving the new humans in their anti-Eden. There you go: I just told you the basic plot of this book, 600 books, and about 400,000 high-school science-fiction writers' year-end projects.

    The problem is that, while you get the general idea about forty pages in, it takes most all the book to pin down the details. What's the rest? The main character, Snowman, sitting in a tree and ruminating on how miserable the world is and thinking back over his childhood and introducing all the pseudoscientific details--400 pages of pseudoscientific details. The only truly human element, the rogue scientist (Crake's) motivation for destroying humanity and replacing it with his new and improved humans, only becomes clear in the last fifth or so of the book. What is it? Why, by gosh, it's jealousy, an emotion scientifically brilliant but foolish Crake had thought irrational! He's jealous that his lover, Oryx, is having it off with Snowman, you see, and so goes bonkers. No, we've never seen that before, the brilliant scientist who can't handle emotion.

    Now, Oryx was introduced early on as a child-porn actress who first stirs then-teenaged Snowman and Crake's moral sense when they watch her "perform" on the Internet, but then she's abandoned for probably 75% of the book, then reappears when Crake digs her up and both he and Snowman immediately fall violently in love with her. Oryx, who claims to love Crake, suddenly and for no reason seduces Snowman, a non-entity if you ever read one, and they have an affair for about 20 or 30 pages before Crake loses his marbles and destroys the world. Yes, you read it right: the event that leads Crake to release his killer plague takes up five or ten percent of the book and isn't particularly well set up. The rest of the book is all pseudo-technical detail illustrating what a soulless, commercial, and ultimately doomed place the future Earth is.

    I'm guessing Atwood wrote this for people who don't read science fiction and thus was trying to present these events as someone moderately average would see it. In this she largely succeeds: the book leaves a lingering nasty taste in your mouth. On the other hand, would Mr. Future Joe Average sit in a tree at the end of the world and think for hours and hours about the horrid wonders of artificially grown meat?

    As I said, if you read science fiction already, you'll have seen this written a lot more deftly. If you don't, it may serve as a decent introduction to this variety of dystopic novels....more info
  • One of Atwood's best
    This book is simply stunning. It starts off a bit slow but picks right up and doesn't let you go until the end. At face value the story is about a man who is the only human being left on earth. His only company is a group of 'Crakers,' an animal/human hybrid creation. Essentially, the story is his quest to survive in a world that has been destroyed. As he desperately searches for the necessities to survive, the story of how the world ended unfolds. Without saying anything revealing, the book is a smart social commentary on many events in the news every day: global warming, genetic experimentation, the use of internet for good and bad, the general decline in morals, etc. Margaret Atwood's style is very easy to read- poetic even. This book will grab you for more reasons than one. The scary part is that it is totally feasible....more info
  • A book to feel ambivalent about
    I have mixed feelings about Margaret Atwood: I enjoy some of her books quite a lot (e.g., "The Handmaid's Tale", while others I downright loathe (e.g., "Lady Oracle"). "Oryx and Crake" perhaps best sums up my feelings in that there were parts that I enjoyed, and then there were things that left me unsatisfied.

    Without getting into a lengthy synopsis, O&C is the tale of a utopian society within a dystopian world. From the novel's onset it is clear that the main narrator, Snowman, is the only member of the human race who has survived whatever it is that has caused the world to spiral into a primitive wasteland. Through his recollections, we trace his life from childhood and discover who Oryx & Crake are and how Snowman's current existence came to be (of course, it's not exactly that easy because Snowman's world is already dramatically different from our own, although I'm betting that Atwood is hoping we draw enough parallels to see that the leaps aren't nearly that large and ought to start worrying...).

    The writing style is fairly easy, and there were only a few moments where I read a line that had that quintissential Atwood flair that verges on an affectation (other readers may enjoy what I view as ersatz ballsiness, but I obviously do not). The most difficult thing for me regarding the writing was the jarring shifts in time - just when you feel like you're starting to get some pertinent backstory, you're slammed back into Snowman's present surroundings. Due to this (perhaps necessary) way of the telling the story, I started out highly intrigued by learning the cause of Snowman's situation, only to find that the more I read, the more my interest waned. It became clear to me that the explanation Atwood was preparing to give us was only going to be 'kind-of cool' rather than all-out awesome.

    And it was. As another reviewer has so astutely pointed out, character motivations are pretty obtuse throughout the novel. We hear a lot about what people do, but we are frequently left hanging as to why they behaved as they did. In particular, the reasons for the actions of Crake are inscrutible, which is a huge flaw given that they drive the novel. I finished the book feeling that Atwood knew what her final destination was, but ran out of gas before reaching it. The more I think about it, the more I realize that despite the entire story being told only through Snowman's eyes, I feel that I understood/knew his character little better than Crake or Oryx.

    Unfortunately, this is one of those books with great buildup, but disappointing returns. It captivates, yes, but is ultimately not as clever or as rewarding as it could have been. I found the ending so unsatisying that this joins the ranks of "books I am glad that I have read but will never read more than once". ...more info
  • Prophetic Novel Leaves this Atwood Fan Feeling Frustrated
    Having been an avid Atwood fan for years, I was quite excited to read this book. The plot of the novel is intruiging. Atwood gives a vivid glimpse into the future of a world traumatized by man's obssession with eternal youth and beauty. Her description of the havoc wreaked by drastic climate change and evironmental damage is stark. She effectively warns about the consequences of living in a society where the line between haves and the have-nots is cleary drawn. Unfortunately, this is all done in a very un-Atwood-ish way. I was disappointed by the sometimes contrived and cheesy dialogue that occured between characters. Some of the words used were just not the kind a writer of Atwood's calibre and experience would use and the story could have done without the graphic child abuse scenes I had to skip over. I certainly was saddened by all of this, having been dazzled by the linguistic briliance of her previous work. The only thing that kept me reading the novel is the uniqueness of the story itself and the fact that our present culture is barrelling towards the very thing she is envisioning.

    Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this novel is the abrupt ending. Atwood builds and builds and builds and then just stops the story. She gives the reader no sense of fulfillment and completion. This was quite frustrating for me. It's kind of like helping to bake a batch of luscious chocolate chip cookies, but not being able to eat one when they're done.

    My theory is that I was so disappointed with this book because the last novel I read by Atwood is Alias Grace; which is, in my opinion, Atwood at her most superb.

    She still remains my favourite author. One disappointment won't remove her from that place. Not after producing so many pleasers before it and after.

    Oryx and Crake

    ...more info
  • Literary dazzling but another plotless Atwood book
    Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite poets because of her sense of humor and beautiful metaphors. She is lyrical, creative and smart. I've read three of her other novels and this one was better than Surfacing and The Cat's Eye but it still lacked the focus of The Handmaids Tale. I don't know how she ever managed to pull off the exictment in The Handmaids Tale but maybe she and her editors might want to considering revisiting whatever she did in this book. As a fiction reader I feel taken when it's apparent that the author and editors at hand didn't take the time to figure out the proper organization of the prose at hand. Also, I would comment on the poor research of bio technology that makes up the inhabitants of Atwood's future, but I figured she was more interesting in a rich setting than Scientific accuracy. That said, it was still an interesting book and I would recommend it as something to read in between the endless search for those rare literary gems. ...more info
  • "Knock, knock." "Who's there?" [Silence.]
    Forget "The Road" - well, don't forget it: read it. But for good old "end of humanity" genre reading, Margaret Atwood delivers the goods in her usual thoughtful and unique way. As in Steven King's "The Stand," a super plague deliberately engineered by the worthy Crake takes us all down in short order to just one man left standing, Snowman, and a tribe of "experimental" primitive humans. As in "The Road," though not to the same depressing degree, what's left of the "world as we once knew it" is not much.

    The story is told principally through Snowman's flash-backs which allows Ms. Atwood to split-screen the pre-plague and post-plague worlds, which gives us some actual dialogue while helping Snowman (and us) make "sense" of how it all came to pass as he explores his bleak environs.

    Ms. Atwood is an excellent writer, and I am huge fan of her work. My only disappointment with this book was that it lacked clear sense of resolution. How one pulls that off successfully when the "future" for the last man on Earth protagonist is less than zilch (think "Robinson Crusoe in Hell") I have yet to see any writer do. ...more info
  • An intense portrayal of scientific extremism
    Oryx and Crake was an action-packed scientific roller coaster that absorbed me into its plot. The characters were vividly individualized and simultaneously intertwined. I enjoyed the Margaret Atwood's fitful ability to incorporate the tactic of flashbacks into the plot. The story was easy to follow and it also made me think! At times I found myself wondering if this book could really ever take place. I mean it's possible, but the same time it's quite extreme. The portrayal of what would happen, though, is strikingly accurate to my thoughts. Atwood challenges any reader into believing in the possibility of her novels becoming reality in the future and she does an amazing job in this novel. Each main character has means about them that I could connect to, at the same time it only connected to one side of me.

    This book opened my eyes to a lot of underlying problems in society. For example: there are scientists and scientifically influenced people everywhere in the world and they all have the ability to think freely. Some of the extreme ideas that are brought forth in Oryx and Crake may be in the process of becoming a reality. Similar to one of Atwood's earlier works, A Handmaid's Tale, the ending left me thinking. Oryx and Crake was a great read and an exciting way for me to end my high school life! Thank you Margaret Atwood.
    ...more info
  • Huh
    I liked this book, but it did take a bit. It's an interesting view point to the end of the world as we know it. I like how we are placed in a world where things have clearly gone wrong yet there is no explanation... it just is. As I said, very interesting but slow at first, so give it a bit....more info
  • Well-Written, But Not Very Original.
    This book appears to get rather good reviews from nearly everyone, save for science fiction fans. I expect the reason for this is that fans of science fiction are used to seeing their grand themes - eg., "the end of the world" - worked over with far more skill and subtlty that what Margaret Atwood gives us in Oryx and Crake. It's not a badly-written book, just rather unoriginal and dull.

    The novel is a collection of science-fiction cliches, and the motivation of the young scientist Crake for destroying the world - jealousy over a woman - is not terribly clever or unique. In keeping with Margaret Atwood's feminist perspectives, perhaps, but nothing new.

    Although Atwood is writing what is technically termed speculative fiction, her ideas boarder on science fiction, and her developements have all been chewed over before in one way or another, by authors with a great deal more originality in this particular area. If one is going to write in a field of fiction, at least do it with a bit of believabilty and uniqueness.

    Even her characters, so well developed usually, can be rather flat. Snowman, for example, is nothing more than a cardboard cutout of a human being, flat as a piece of paper. The motivations of Oryx sleeping with Snowman are never fully explained, other than when Oryx claims that he is "her fun." This statement, I suppose, is designed to show how superior and subtle women in general are, and conversely, I suppose, just how terribly clever this author is. I am not impressed. If you is going to have your characters run amok, at least provide a credible explanation.

    I thought that one of the roles of speculative fiction is to examine the unique responses of human beings under extraordinary situations and pressures. Therefore, it is a mystery to me why cardboard characters should appear in something like Oryx and Crake, along with virtually every science fiction cliche in the book: dystopia meets world overrun by designer viruses meets mad scientist with emotional problems. This is the kind of thing that only rank amateurs in the field unsually write, and I am profoundly shocked that this book never moves beyond those. The very USE of such cliches makes believable character developement a questionable endeavour to say the least.

    I understand the novel's point, of course - that no matter how brilliant and insightful humans become, we are all still human. We are all vulnerable to the same mortal foibles. However, it's not a terribly orginal or profound point anymore, and has been worked over many times before. Star Trek comes to mind - a walking, living cliche in itself.

    Atwood seems late to the speculative/science fiction game, appearing slow to pick up on these well-worn cliches, and the future does not bode well. It takes time to develope a feel for a field, to develope a philosophy of what has already been done and what has not, and that takes years. Atwood, seemingly, has many years to go.

    All said, this novel will no doubt appeal to readers of fiction in general. The prose is servicable, and it gets the job done. The novel however, falters as good fiction, due to some shoddy character developement and a seeming reliance on cliches, and science fiction fans will probably find themselves feeling like they've seen it all before, only better.

    I must confess that as a science fiction reader, I deal with high originality and, despite the rumours to the contrary, profound character developement on a day-to-day basis, and I found myself unchallenged and mostly bored reading this book. It could have been so much better than it was. For a truly terrifying "end of the world novel," read "Day of the Trifids," by John Wyndham. It will haunt you, and the characters will arouse your sympathy. Terrifying, sad and Earth-shattering. A masterpiece. ...more info
  • Wanted More
    As a senior biochemistry major, I was intrigued by the scenario and characters offered in this book. I plowed through in 2 days because I was interested in learning more about the characters, to understand the world they had created.
    At the end, there was little to satisfy my curiosity. The characters, I think, were meant to be allegorical, rather than portraying real people. Even so, I haven't quite finished unraveling this novel.
    It was an interesting read, but it has not left me significantly different than when I started reading - at least not yet....more info
  • Orwell's 1984, updated for a post-AIDS/Ebola/global warming world
    Set as a story in the post-apocalyptic world, not too far distant from the present, where the human race has been largely wiped out, to be replaced by a race of simple minded, non-threatening "ideal" people, known as "Crakers" after their supposed creator. This is not science fiction--no great technological leaps here, it is more a novel exploring the essence of humanity, which just happens to be set in the future.

    As the book begins, Snowman appears to be the last remaining human, has set himself up as a god (or shaman?) to the new race--explaining their origins, and providing their link to the mythical past. However, his relationship is tenuous. He finds his "duties" to be burdensome, and regrets that when he self-consciously created his mythical position of power, he didn't impose more obligations on the "Crakers". For example, he realizes that he is slowly starving to death and can not subsist on the one fish a week which he told the Crakers they had to bring him.

    As Snowman goes off in search of the remnants of the old world, in a quest to find food and other tools (a gun!) from the old world which will allow him to better survive in the new, the back story begins to unfold through a series of flashbacks.

    We learn that Snowman used to be Jimmy, raised in a privileged enclosure reserved for employees of elite corporations, which run the world. Everyone else lives in plebeland--which looks a lot like our present world. His best friend takes on the moniker of Crake when they discover a web based extermination game in which man's accomplishments (art, music, electricity, etc.) are made to do battle with man's disasters (the holocaust, the sacking of Rome, etc.).

    Crake goes on to an elite university, where he excels at genetic experiments, and is quickly hired by one of the most prestigious corporations, and is set to work on building "perfect" children to be used as "floor models" for couples who want a genetically engineered child.

    In the meantime, Jimmy wallows at a second rate university, focusing on the study of language, as he has no aptitude for the skills society values--science and math. He gets a job writing ad copy for a company which produces self-improvement books and related products.

    Eventually, Crake arranges fro Jimmy to come to work for his firm--to which he has now ascended to a top level position. There, Jimmy meets Oryx. He recognizes her as the child prostitute he and Crake saw when illegally surfing porn sites as teens. Her journey from impoverished Asia to corporate America is detailed through a series of conversations she has with Jimmy, after they fall in love--or at least he does. Her emotional center seems to have been destroyed by her early life--but her kindness has remained intact--very much the Madonna/Whore dichotomy in its purest form. Crake is also in love (or as close as he is capable) with Oryx, and that love triangle is the beginning of the end, both for the world and the book.

    The combination of love triangle and egotism, along with Crake's nihilistic tendencies (he was a master at the exterminator web game) leads to disaster. Atwood spends the last couple of chapters setting up various questions about the worth of human kind--tying up all the plot lines and philosophical questions that have been dropped throughout the plot.

    To avoid giving away the ending, I cite only two examples. Could our current civilization ever be recreated if it were destroyed? No. By using up all of the metals on the surface of the earth, we have assured that technology will never be able to advance along anything like the path it took the first time. Which is more valuable, words or science? Well, Atwood is a writer, so guessing her answer shouldn't be too difficult!

    The end is extremely satisfying--Atwood doesn't answer all the hard questions, she makes the reader answer them. Thus assuring that you will continue to think about Crake's world long after you have turned the last page.
    ...more info
  • "Bucket o' Nubbins" Seems So Real
    This is the story of a near-future that depicts a caricature of what a completely de-regulated corporate world might look like and the outcomes that are possible. It is at once relevant to the current decade of genetic and biological experimentation and corporate funding of research and the high value placed on image and the angst created by image peddlers who demand us to look and behave a certain way even if it is unattainable.

    It reveals the misery that one can have when one basically has everything. The narrator Snowman/Jimmy is a complex character not unlike the voice of teenagers and care-free college students looking for a party. But there is an undercurrent of misery and unfulfilled desire with him. It's a longing for feeling connected and intimate, but the environment prevents him from enjoying that life.

    At the same time, Atwood pokes fun at it all with her characteristic wit. This is the definitive dystopian tale for this age where Orwell was the same for an age long gone. The issue is no longer government destruction of passion and freedom, but corporate controlled social structures and desire....more info
  • Interesting take on a common theme
    I really enjoyed this book and the way it was written was slightly different from the usual apocalyptic novel. It starts with the world already at an end and through Snowman's memories and thoughts we are taken through his life and ultimatly how man's destruction came about while also following Snowman's current fight for survival.

    Some people have claimed the ending is poor. I disagree I think it is fairly obvious what is going to happen, even if it is not explicitly written out, but I can't go into more detail without giving away the end. Suffice to say it doesn't explain how the world will continue but then it would take a whole other book to do that.

    I have taken off one star because they was a couple of points that I felt should have/could have been better explained. Again, unlike others I feel Crake's motivation is fairly obvious but I was not so sure what (or why) his intentions were towards himself and Jimmy in his last scene. Why was Jimmy brought to work at Reejov? I also was waiting on an explanation about Orynx that never came. Was she real? Were her memories real or was she an early creation of Crake's who had implanted these memories based on his and Jimmy's internet encouters. I also felt a chance was missed to explore the pleeblands in more detail either through Jimmy making more excursions there or through his mother. This may have given another element to the story.

    However despite these minor quips I enjoyed the book and although Jimmy/Snowman is a fairly despondant and morose individual (maybe understandable) I really wanted to know what would happen next....more info
  • I'll never forget this book
    The future described in this book chilled me to the core; I actually found it even more thought-provoking than the dystopian vision of The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's story touches on many contemporary issues: environmental destruction, extinction, megalomania, genetic experiments gone awry, deceptive advertising and the numbing of the masses, and out-of-control political power. Her social commentary is expertly woven into the story, never preachy.

    She writes with such attention to detail and consistency that her brave new world seems real, not imagined. After finishing Oryx and Crake, I felt a profound sadness for humankind, as well as a greater appreciation for everything lost in Atwood's cautionary tale: art, love, food, humor, and free will....more info
  • Ugh
    I bought this book for a book club. I hope someone else wants it. After all of the hype, I am disappointed by the writing, the story and the ending....more info
  • One man's pain leads to the one of the best Apocalypses ever
    A sad, powerful, science fiction novel that takes its time revealing its secrets. Through a series of flashbacks, the Snowman (the last `man' alive) describes how a troubled genius planned to use genetic engineering to re-invent the human race as something simpler, happier, and less dangerous to itself and others. If only he hadn't succeeded!

    The Snowman's loneliness and desperation drive his recollections of his good friend Crake (whose bitterness and obsession with extinct species should have raised a red flag) and the delightful Oryx (to whom life has been very cruel without crushing her spirit). The love triangle that forms among these characters, whose obtuseness is annoying but all-too human, leads to a tragic climax. Atwood seems to be making the point that human sexuality and emotional sensitivity are ultimately destructive, and could profitably be replaced with something else.

    There's plenty of raw emotion in this book, perhaps even too much for some readers. The sequences where the Snowman returns to the compound provide some much needed action in a story that is largely about characters' feelings. Some may find fault with the ending, which could have been more fully resolved, but nonetheless this is still a brilliant and beautifully written novel that gives us one of the best Apocalypses ever....more info
  • Slightly gimmicky and indulgent, but well done nonetheless
    Oryx and Crake was on the syllabus for one of my courses in literature this semester. In terms of the "big picture" it serves as a spectacular example of human intelligence and technology gone awry. Atwood crafts an eerily familiar planet Earth, set sometime in the near future, following the mass extinction of the human race.

    Atwood clearly shines while demonstrating her ability to craft a vivid setting filled with genetically engineered creatures and bizarre health products. It is easy to become visually immersed as she literally takes you inside the novel.

    Unfortunately, the character development falls disappointingly short. Halfway through the novel, you have yet to develop a real sense of the main characters personalities. Even now after finishing the novel, I'm finding it difficult to decide what truly motivated Crake. And, I don't feel like I know enough about Jimmy to draw my own conclusions at the ending.

    Overall, I found the novel entertaining and a worthy read. Though, I have a few gripes: Some of the brand names and creatures were a bit gimmicky for me (Rakunks, Wolvogs, Pigoons...) Also, I found the excessive emphasis on pornography, namely as it relates to children, quite overindulgent. Atwood could have gotten her point across without delving so deeply into that territory. At time the language was tedious and the story took detours that could have easily been cut (what purpose did the 100 or so pages on Oryx's past actually serve at the end of the day?)....more info
  • Genetic Engineering
    Snowman's life has always been pretty protected. Although the outside environment is harsh and disease-ridden, Snowman grew up in an enclosed community run by the genetic engineering company where his father worked. There he has always
    known his air is safe, he won't be exposed to the dangerous sunlight, and he has food to eat.

    As a teenager, Snowman's best friend is Crake, a brilliant and philosophical guy who often ponders the problems of humanity and theorizes solutions. He is a superstar throughout high school and college, and is heavily recruited by genetic engineering companies. He never stops talking about ways to improve human beings, and the things he proposes aren't all that outlandish for one with all of the resources of genetic engineering laid out before him.

    When he looks back on his life, Snowman thinks he probably should have been able to predict what would happen. Maybe he could have even stopped it. Instead, he finds himself now outside, exposed to the elements. He is foraging for food while trying to avoid the scary genetically engineered predators that have been released into the wild. The only company Snowman has are the Children of Crake.

    The Children of Crake are all that could be imagined for a peaceful society. They are resistant to disease and the elements, with no need for clothing. They have no leaders and no concept of jealousy or aggression. In short, they are Crake's vision for a perfect society. They are also frustratingly simple and boring, but Snowman feels an obligation to look out for them, as he is now the only human from before who seems to have survived some horrible tragedy.

    I liked the details of the futuristic society in this book. It was fascinating to read how Atwood thought a world devoted to genetic engineering would function, and more interesting because it seems so likely that things could go this way. I also liked the details of all of the imperfections that Crake would have edited out of humans. Some of them seemed to make a great deal of sense in the abstract, but would lead to a society that was unbearably dull.

    I would have liked to have seen the main characters developed a little bit better than they were, though. Snowman was interesting and I liked reading about his childhood and seeing the world through his eyes. Crake was not as well developed, and I didn't like that Oryx was really not given a personality at all. There was no reason behind her choosing to work for Crake, and no reason why both Crake and Snowman would have found her so desirable, other than a single disturbing image of her as a child. I didn't understand her place in the story, which was a weakness. ...more info
  • Stay far far away from this one...
    This was one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. Are all of Ms. Atwood's books like this? For half of the book, I wasn't sure if there was a plot or not. By the end of the book, I knew there wasn't. it was full of gratuitous language, jumped around in plot, and was not even worth the time it took to check it out from the library....more info
  • Really Something....Could have been something more
    In Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood brings us the story of Snowman, the only apparent human survivor in a post-apocalyptic world. He lives alongside a group of genetically engineered beings known as the Children of Crake, or Crakers, created by his dead friend Crake. The story alternates between Snowman's struggle to survive and his memories of the path that results in the destruction of the human race. Mankind has been guilty of a potpourri of mistakes, and the sad state of the world is blamed on everything from global warming, a rigid hierarchical social structure, and genetic engineering,to the oppression of coffee growers. Without exception, every single technological advance Man makes results in making things worse, never better. Slowly, inexorably, with occasional clues, we watch the flow of events which will lead to the inevitable Armageddon.

    While Atwood displays remarkable creativity and wit in this book, it seems to me somehow bloated. In the best dystopias (think Brave New World, 1984, A Clockwork Orange), the author creates his dystopia and then lets the characters self-destruct within it. Atwood just keeps on inventing her world throughout the novel. It feels as it she is laboring under an irresistable compulsion to tell us absolutely everything not just about this society's social structure and disdain for art and spirituality, but also their animals, housing, educational system, and even their food. In the same vein, there is no question about the Crakers, including how they have sex and eliminate their body waste, that goes unanswered. The central theme of the book somehow gets buried under all this detail. It is as if Golding added 50 pages to Lord of the Flies creating flora and fauna on his island. It might have been interesting, but it would not have made for a better book.

    Many reviewers have been critical of the ending of Oryx and Crake, but I think it is just right. In both The Handmaid's Tale and Alias, Grace, it seemed to me that Atwood kept on writing after she should have stopped, so I was surprised by this book's abrupt end. However, without giving too much away, just when we thought we knew everything about this world, new questions arise. Do the Crakers in fact have the potential to develop humanity after all? Has Snowman learned enough from the mistakes that have been made that there might be a chance for Mankind? If you believe this, the door might be open for hope for a future. A little heavy-handed, maybe, but it goes a long way to redeem what was feeling like a golly-gee work of science fiction.

    I am probably a little overly hard on this book 2 reasons. The first is that I am not a science-fiction fan, and the second is that this writer has shown us in previous work what she can do. Like the kids in the gifted class, she has set herself up for high expectations. You can't write The Blind Assassin and then expect anyone to cut you any slack.

    Margaret Atwood seems to me to suffer from what could be called the Nabokov Problem, in that she is too good for what she writes. Both authors sometimes seem to have squandered their extraordinary gifts on an overwhelming drive to be clever. Oryx and Crake is a cautionary tale about the hubris of Man, who believes despite all evidence to the contrary that he can use unbridled technology to improve on the work of Nature (or, if you prefer, God.) Atwood could have written the Brave New World for our generation. This could have been a novel so moving and compelling that its very name became a shorthand warning about the unforseen consequences of blindly moving forward with every possible advance in the name of Science. Instead, Atwood chose to write this work of science fiction, and it is very good. In fact, it is a brilliant book. It could have been a great one.

    ...more info
  • Entertaining, contemplative, realistic, frightening?
    My favorite genre of fiction in any form is post-apocalyptic, so going in this hit right home. I also like realistic speculative future views, and that part of the story forms the other half of this tale.

    At times it was intensely creative, while others it featured hard looks at being alone among people versus being truly alone. I liked the dichotomy of the storytelling there.

    In the end, I very much enjoyed the novel but it also fell just a bit short for me when I compared my earliest expectations of where I felt like the story was leading with where it eventually led. The groundwork was great, but in a way it did too good of a job because Atwood ended up drawing a world where, while the outcome was indeed a horrible side of humanity to even think about, it just seemed inevitable in the circumstances. As a warning for a place we might be heading, I guess it did its job that way....more info
  • Conclusion, please!
    The plot line was intriguing. I found the switching back and forth annoying with too much time spent on Jimmy's childhood and friendship with Crake.
    I wanted to deeply immersed in the Robinson Crusoe aspect of her story.
    While no one will regard me as a literary genius is it too much to ask an author to finish the book? Now begins the rolling of eyes by the illuminati...stories, like life never end yada yada. If I have to write my own conclusion I should get a discount on the book. Bah-Humbug!...more info
  • An Atwood masterpiece
    I found this book haunting. It's been many months since I finished this book, yet the characters still linger. This book doesn't really belong with the typical SciFi crowd, but instead should be grouped with Orwell, Bradbury, Huxley and Burgess. I recommend Oryx and Crake to anyone who's curious. Margaret Atwood is a gem, and will be long remembered for her contributions to literature. College students already study her work, and that will only continue in the years to come....more info
  • I Didn't Like It
    I initially thought this was a novel about someone with Asperger's Syndrome. Instead it was an allegory with an apocalyptic theme. It's a gloom and doomsday tale of the sad fate of humankind.

    The story is in some undisclosed future date with global warming having wiped out a good part of Planet Earth as we currently know it. The sun can kill you and, unlike Ray Bradbury's story of the planet that had rain for 7 years and only a few minutes of sunshine, in this book the sun wears a skull and crossbones.

    Snowman/Jimmy tells the story and he lives in a tree. The Crakers are a species that supposedly save Planet Earth's sad remains. They are automaton people who know no pleasure. Many readers liked this book, but I didn't like it at all. ...more info
  • Depressing and vivid view of the what our future may look like
    Just finished reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. If you like end of the world stuff, or dystopian novels, this one is a great read. The main character, Snowman, is one of the last living human beings and the unwilling caretaker of a small village made of up of a genetically engineered new species of humans. Through the narrative, Atwood slowly explores how the world as we know it comes to a very unpleasant (and self-inflicted) end. Atwood explores to the depths some very unpleasant aspects of technological society: our increasing reliance on designer medicine, addiction to child porn and the exploitation of children, and the often unintended side effects of well-intentioned tinkering with nature.

    Excellent stuff....more info
  • Original, intelligent, attention-grabbing and thought-provoking. A wonderful book. Highly recommended
    After an genetic apocalypse that has wiped out the human race, a man who calls himself Snowman watches over a band of genetically-modified humans. He is running out of supplies, and so he makes the decision to leave his treetop camp and trek across the jungle wasteland of a town in search of supplies. As he journeys, he thinks back to his childhood, his friend Crake, his lover Oryx, and the civilization and sequence of events that lead up to the apocalypse. The flashbacks and the current story come together when Snowman makes it to Crake's laboratory, the Paradice Project. A book of inventive, logical fictional science, Oryx and Crake is a gripping, engrossing, and though-provoking read. Atwood's analysis of human nature and society's future is incredibly realistic and unsettling, her exploration of genetic engineering is based in science and is similarly unsettling, and these concepts are told in a witty, dark writing style and surrounded by complex and realistic characters all with their own stories. I greatly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

    This is the third book by Atwood that I've read, and I was surprised and greatly impressed by it. She has always been an accomplished writer, but Oryx and Crake shows maturity combined with innate talent. The concurrent plotlines, one of Snowman's journey, one of his childhood and the events that lead up to the apocalypse, are interwoven in a way that adds depth to both and keeps the story engaging and fast-paced without cheap tricks or excessive cliff-hangers. The characters of Snowman, Oryx, and Crake reveal themselves gradually, exposing realistic depth and back story, and each is fascinating, attractive, and sympathetic in an individual way. The science behind the genetically-centered plot is intelligent and obviously based in research: this is fictional science more than pure science fiction. Finally, the social commentary in Oryx and Crake makes this book as relivant as Atwood's most famous novel, The Handmaid's Tale. All in all, it is a skillfully composed, intelligent, engrossing novel.

    My only complaint is that, based on such an original idea and running into concurrent plotlines, the final resolution of the book seems a little mundane and anti-climatic. Obviously I can't talk about the ending in detail without running the story, but sufficed to say the explanation of the apocalypse and Snowman's involvement in the events that lead up to it all comes down to a fairly simple explanation as far as the facts go. With an entire book's worth of build up and so much mystery and unfolding in the plotlines, this ending seems a bit fast and doesn't have the impact that the reader hopes for. However, Atwood does leave enough unfinished ideas, including Crake's motives throughout the book and Snowman's eventual fate, to keep the end of the book sufficiently complex. By leaving questions and putting the events of the plot in a greater, post-apocalyptic context, the simple and explainable ending to the book feels less disappointing or limited.

    All in all, I highly recommend this book to all readers, and I look forward to rereading it myself. I think it will appeal to science fiction fans and general fiction fans equally: while science fiction is an important aspect, the writing style and characters stay strong throughout and make the book widely appealing and readable. This is a unique, thought-provoking, well researched and highly intelligent text, and it manages to grab and hold the reader's attention as well. I encourage you to pick up a copy....more info
  • The best kind of Sci-Fi
    Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is the best kind of science-fiction novel - a well-crafted, compelling story that uses the genre of sci-fi to explore ideas about science. The ideas explored in the novel are the ethics of genetic engineering and a dystopian look at where it could potentially be taking us. Atwood's prose is effortless to read, sparse yet lucid in it's description, and is sprinkled with her usual wit. Like other Atwood books, the narrative structure and plot are intricate and complex - the novel combines two stories that take their time building steam and ultimately come crashing together. As good as the prose and the plot are, the thing that stays with you once you put down Oryx and Crake are the questions that Atwood raises. A writer of a lesser caliber would attempt to spell it out , but Atwood trusts the reader to reach their own conclusions. Recommended. ...more info
  • The second best book I've ever read.
    Brilliant, evocative, worth every word. Margaret Atwood proved herself to me in this book, the first I've read by her.
    Every sentence shows you something new, respecting the reader's right to dig through imagery instead of sort through narratorial proclamations, resulting in an ending few chapters that are sure to leave you breathless.

    This book is on the shelf waiting to be read a second time. LOVE it.

    Oh, and the best book I've ever read is Being Dead, by Jim Crace. 180 pages of genius. Read them both and be amazed....more info
  • Margaret Atwood - at the outer edge of a wide-ranging author
    Recently I read Alias- Grace by the same author followed by this book.
    I rate both books highly but this one is the more gripping and stimulating of the pair. The two are very different in style.

    Jimmy, later known as Snowman, is the most interesting and developed character in this book as opposed to the flatter characters of Crake and Oryx.

    The story is suspenseful although I haven't decided if the climax makes complete sense to me or not; it appears to be result of mutual misjudgements by the three main character or a suicidal impulse on the part of Crake (which is hinted at but does not quite jive with how I read his character). It has a touch of the deus ex machina plot device to me.

    Nonetheless it is a rewarding book well-worth the read and perhaps an extrapolation, however exaggerated of the way things are going. Jimmy especially rings true as a product of the modern times....more info
  • Could have been better
    The short: Writing style, good. Exploration of characters, bad.

    The long: This is the only Atwood book I've read and did so after a friend recommended it. I think Atwood's writing style is great. It is entertaining, it helps the reader get inside the head of the narrating character, and I thought the way the story unfolded was interesting. But as I approached the end, I was continually disappointed. Looking back over the course of the time I spent reading it I can't help but feel it was a waste. Why Crake behaved the way he did is nonsensical. At least give us a reason. Why end the book at the point that it did? Either three pages less or three pages more would have fit better. The premise of the book, that we are on a fast track to self-destruction through science, is a plausible one, so I didn't mind the heavy-handedness with which Atwood beats us with the message. But there was too much "Science gone awry" and not enough "Characters behaved this way because..." I may check out the Blind Assassin since everyone seems to love that, but I was disappointed with this one. It could have been better....more info
  • This is a fantastic book!
    This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The characters are amazing and I found myself thinking about the book days after I finished reading it. It is so interesting, and I love how it is set into the future, but it is vague enough to not give the reader the year, or generation that it is set in. Read this book!!!...more info
  • Very little return on the investment
    The book didn't know what it wanted to be, I think. It wasn't the stark realism of The Road nor the weirdo, amusing, corporate-controlled future of Max Barry, but a combination of the two.
    And I don't mind the no ending bit with literature, but that only works when A) it's literature and B) it's not set up for an ending.
    We are set up for a decision, maybe a resolution. But instead we get nothing. It wasn't profound, it was a cop out.

    Good writing, though....more info
  • Astounding !
    This is an amazing fiction that takes you not by the hands but by your soul to an astounding Brave New World - but be prepared to the ending......It was the very first Margaret Atwood's title I've ever read and it took me by surprise for its creativity and great sense of suspense together with the non-linear development. Try this one and you will not be disapointed if you're looking for a book that would hook you while reading and will stay with you for a long time afterwards. ...more info
  • "Bogus!"
    Interesting trip through one man's misery and guilt. Snowman may be the last human on Earth. He's haunted by his memories of Oryx and Crake, his lover and friend from before the apocalypse. Together the three are responsible for triggering the end of humanity and Snowman is left to pick up the pieces.

    The book clocks in around 350 pages but felt much shorter, due to the accessible prose. The only flaw is the lightning quick shifts from the present to flashback and back-the problem being that as soon as I begin to feel comfortable Atwood switches gears yet again, creating a slightly jarring effect. This, however, is a minor problem considering the story as a whole. I could not put this down! ...more info
  • Not a Fictionalized "Inconvenient Truth"...
    "Oryx and Crake" is a fantastic intersection of inspired, horrifying, plausible science fiction and the most affecting, true characterization of the male psyche I've ever read, rendered perfectly somehow by someone who is not male.
    I was sucked into the protagonist, his demonstrated (rather than explicitly stated) complexities and the equal portions of self-hatred and self-aggrandizement that form a perfect simulacra of reality. His loves, his bitterness, his loneliness and burning lack of fulfillment were rendered through perfect, though simplistic sentences; the writing is fantastic, not in its words but its meanings.
    The true benchmark is to see if the reader believes in the characters, their sufferings and joy. Atwood succeeds in this: more than any book I have read before, I believed it....more info
  • Dystopian, an excellent read but a bit ponderous in the beginning
    Margaret Atwood is a very accomplished author and this novel shows her excellent command of her craft. It makes for a ripping good read, and leaves many thoughts behind to ruminate. She is in the lead of what is likely to be a long line of future authors to predict that the world will end not with a bang, but with biological tinkering and the unleashing of some man-made plague.

    I found the first chapters a bit ponderous, but it is worth sticking with them because the pace picks up considerably after about the first quarter of the book, and many of the oblique references become clear.

    I don't read much fiction, but in this case I'm really pleased I did -- this is a novel I can recommend....more info
  • Corknut
    I feel ashamed because I had to look up the spelling of dystopian and the tireless Margaret - I have it on good authority - did research out the wazoo, spending several days w/ the real Alex the Parrot (who did not care for how he was portrayed). I hit the Chickie-Nuggets section in the famously healthy (and possibly humorless) Angelica Cafe. I was reminded at times of the tv series Lost (probably because of the weather). And Children of Men (probably because of the Scotch, Clive Owen's and Snowman's, not mine). And my travels in the seamier sections of Bangkok. And the end of Planet of the Apes. Hopefully just a fairy tale, but it had the ring of zombie possibility. Don't forget to pack your sunblock....more info
  • Don't Bother
    This book was a serious waste of time. Like most commercial fiction, the prose was common and uninspired, the plot was a heavy-handed attempt at sensationalism, and the characters were metaphoric inflations of mankind without any depth. Add that to the fact that the plot is crippled by more than a few abusrdities and holes and that Atwood isn't a skilled enough writer to make her tale of an apocolypse resonate in any meaningful way, and what you're left with is airplane reading - although I really wouldn't even recommend this book for that....more info
  • The Horror and Delight of An Atwood Classic
    When you think of the future, do you picture a new race of humans complete with built-in insect repellent and blue backsides? If so, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is an excellent book selection for you.
    The novel is set in the future and revolves around potential and significant advances in the field of genetic engineering. Entire companies are built on the foundation of genetically altered animals to produce more food, or new and extreme ways to keep yourself looking young, such as "NooSkin," which is a treatment that literally replaces your skin. One man, ambitious and brilliant, but conceivably diabolical, creates an isolated new species. Though they are based on the human infrastructure, the genius Crake includes characteristics from animals in nature to help the "Crakers" best utilize their resources and defend themselves without violence. The novel follows Jimmy (or Snowman), who is the only human left with the Crakers after a mass annihilation of the world population, and his struggle to cope with being the only one of his kind and the loss of his lover, Oryx.
    This book is multidimensional and frighteningly realistic. In classic Atwood style, the lack of conclusion was disappointing, but simultaneously thought provoking. I recommend this book to anyone with a passion for futuristic science fiction, a fetish for Margaret Atwood, or any interest in expanding their point of view, because this novel consumptively satisfies all three needs....more info
  • Remember Killer!
    When she's good -- as in "Alias Grace" and "The Blind Assassin" -- Margaret Atwood is very, very good. She invents engaging, idiosyncratic characters and drops them into lives, not unlike our own, which she writes about adeptly and with pathos and humor. When she's not - as in "The Handmaid's Tale" - she grinds out doomsday novels peopled by flat characters whose lives are dictated by mad scientists and venal politicians, and drops them into lives only vaguely like our own. Unfortunately, "Oryx and Crake" is one of the latter.

    "What if a bunch of video gamers, their connection with the reality of life and death already tenuous, took over the nation's top genetics engineering lab?" Atwood asks. "What choices would they make?" "What if corporations subsumed the state, providing protection only for those citizens whose conduct was consistent with their profits?" "What if commercial sex and random violence became the opiate of the masses and families withered away?" And, of course, "What challenges would we face if the polar ice caps melted, populations grew more rapidly than the resources necessary to support them, and almost everything edible were made out of soy?"

    But the Really Big Question of "Oryx and Crake" -- the overarching tragicomic question that propels the action forward - is "Where will our craving for longer life, for ever-increasing health, for matchless beauty - for near-immortality itself - that pharmaceutical manufacturers and the medical profession have lately induced, and so heavily promoted, eventually lead us?" Put more simply, the question Atwood asks is "What if organ farming were the logical extension of wrinkle injections?"

    Whatever one might say about the musings and concerns of futurists, they aren't likely to be literary. In fact, Atwood narrates "Oryx and Crake" in a flat, pseudo-scientific, reportorial style that provides more questions than answers. It is no accident, I suppose, that the "Oryx and Crake" page of Atwood's Random House website is dominated by suggested discussion questions like those above. Nothing good is likely to befall a world in which organ farming has replaced wrinkle injections. That much is apparent. Less obvious is whether an interesting story, much less a story of some literary merit, can be contrived from it. Again, it is no accident that the novel ends - unsatisfyingly for me - like each episode of an old science fiction movie or radio serial, like "Flash Gordon," for instance, with the hero at a crossroads and the outcome of his story accordingly in doubt.

    Atwood has a great ear for language, and while she denies that her dystopian novels should be regarded as science fiction, it might just be that she intends her narrative style in "Oryx and Crake" to mirror the flat scientific fantasy of Arthur C. Clarke as much as the political fantasy of Aldous Huxley. Still, appreciating an author's craft is not the same as enjoying the result. "Oryx and Crake" is an average read.

    Robert E. Olsen...more info
  • Frighteningly Possible Dystopia
    Oryx and Crake is told from the point of view of Snowman. All we know in the beginning is that Snowman is the last known human alive and he's watching over a group he calls "The Children of Crake". Snowman tells us the story of what happened to the rest of humanity and how The Children of Crake came to be through flashbacks starting in his childhood.

    I am a fan of dystopian literature. Brave New World by Huxley and The Stand by Stephen King are two of my favorites. Although this novel starts out a bit slow, it does turn into a very interesting, eye opening story. The best dystopian novels are the ones that you can actually imagine happening and Atwood managed that with Oryx and Crake. I look forward to reading more of her work....more info
  • Science fiction from Atwood
    Atwood is a wonderful writer; there is no denying that. She is a master at slowly unravelling the story line. Here, the reader first meets Snowman/Jimmy living in a tree in a desolate landscape. He seems to be the only human being to have survived some major catastrophe. Atwood will slowly reveal to the reader the story of Snowman's life, his relationship with Oryx and Crake, and later on who the Children of Crake are. But don't get me wrong; the slow pace in no way discouraged me from reading on. Her tale is so interesting that you want to know how things turn out, and you will want to understand how this world came to be the way that it is.

    This book is presented as a work of science fiction. I would put the emphasis on "science" above all else. Genetic engineering is the focus of much research in this world. Foods are engineered and new breeds of animals are created by crossbreeding different species, giving birth to rakunks, wolvogs and pigoons, each one created for specific human needs.

    The other thing about Atwood: she is a master of the ambiguous ending. This book is no different. The reader can make his or her own conclusion based on the way Atwood wraps up her tale. This isn't necessarily a negative comment, but something the reader should know going in, especially if they've never read one of Atwood's novels before.

    Overall, I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I did The Blind Assassin.
    ...more info
  • An apocalyptic tale
    "Oryx and Crake" is Margaret Atwood's interpretation of the possible extinction of the human race. This futuristic sci-fi novel takes place during a time when science, specifically genetic technology, has taken over and destroyed the world. Snowman (also known as Jimmy) might very well be the last human being left on Earth. As he journeys to what used to be the RejoovenEsence compound, Snowman reflects on the events that led to his current state of being. The reader learns that Jimmy grew up in a world divided into compounds (which were basically gated corporate-based cities) and pleebands (dangerous and polluted urban areas). Jimmy became best friends with a boy nicknamed "Crake," a genius who had big plans for the future. The two friends drifted apart during college, but Crake reappeared during a low period in Jimmy's life and got him a job at RejoovenEsence. Jimmy learned that Crake had been busy creating the "Crakers," a man-made race of human beings. Crake was also working with Oryx, a woman who had haunted Jimmy's thoughts his entire life. A love triangle ensued, and like most love triangles, it did not have a happy ending.

    This is an incredibly depressing book that illustrates how the desire to create a seemingly better world can lead to disaster. Atwood brilliantly laces the pieces of this story together, shifting back and forth between Snowman's struggle to survive and flashbacks that explain how the human race was practically wiped out. "Oryx and Crake" warns about the dangers that science and technology can present and paints a grim picture of what could happen if scientists are left to run amok.

    Despite the novel's depressing subject matter, it is brilliantly written and is a real page-turner...I couldn't put it down! This is definitely one of Atwood's best efforts....more info
  • Great Introductory book to a non-sci-fi person!
    Easily stated this is a book that was recommended (forced at times) for me to read. I had a hard time grasping the beginning, urging for more in the middle and left questioning at the end. This is a thought-provoker, like books should be. Imagine Sci-Fi meets George Orwell for a drink... She's a great writer and I recommend this book to many....more info
  • Compelling ideas; flat characters
    Atwood did a great job of extending some current trends into the future, her wit was sharp and fresh, and I wasn't bothered by any liberties she may have taken with science. What did bother me was Oryx and the other female characters.

    I haven't read any other Atwood but had the impression that she's considered feminist, so maybe I missed some irony. But the one major female character in this book was nothing but a sex provider. Atwood gave her no personality or skills; she was there simply as an irresistible sexual force, from her childhood in the porn industry on up through her role as a sexual obsession for both Crake and Jimmy.

    Other women in the book were dim, slight figures who flitted by with little notice. They included Jimmy's mom, who spent most of her short time with us shuffling about the house, depressed, until she disappeared. Then there were many prostitutes and "lovers," who existed solely as sexual providers. Even the last living female of Jimmy's species, one of the last humans he would ever see, was evaluated chiefly for her sexual attractiveness.

    Maybe Atwood was making a statement about the likely future of women as the sex class, but it contributed to an overall lack of characterization. Oryx was mysterious and sexy, Crake was smart and twisted, and Jimmy was...confused. That's about it. The ideas, however, were fascinating, and kept me involved to the end....more info
  • Couldn't put it down
    I'm really becoming a fan of Atwood. This is the third book by her that I've read (I read Handmaid's Tale and The Penelopiad before this one). I may be a sucker for dystopia novels, but I absolutely loved this book. The near-future world that she creates is fascinating and frightening at the same time. My favorite thing about the book is the way it's organized. I love that we don't get a straight-out explanation of what exactly "happened" to the world in this book until the end. I loved picking up tidbits and hints throughout and speculating on it. It was a highly enjoyable and thought-provoking read. I read it in about 3 days, which is very fast for me....more info


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