Friday, April 9, 2010

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Book Details
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Paperback, 376 pages
2004, Anchor
ISBN: 0385721676

The triple whammy of runaway social inequality, genetic technology and catastrophic climate change, has finally culminated in some apocalyptic event. As Jimmy, apparently the last human being on earth, makes his way back to the RejoovenEsence compound for supplies, the reader is transported backwards toward that cataclysmic event, its full dimensions gradually revealed. Jimmy grew up in a world split between corporate compounds (gated communities metastasized into city-states) and pleeblands (unsafe, populous and polluted urban centers). His best friend was "Crake," the name originally his handle in an interactive Net game, Extinctathon. Even Jimmy's mother-who ran off and joined an ecology guerrilla group when Jimmy was an adolescent-respected Crake, already a budding genius. The two friends first encountered Oryx on the Net; she was the eight-year-old star of a pedophilic film on a site called HottTotts. Oryx's story is a counterpoint to Jimmy and Crake's affluent adolescence. She was sold by her Southeast Asian parents, taken to the city and eventually made into a sex "pixie" in some distant country. Jimmy meets Oryx much later-after college, after Crake gets Jimmy a job with ReJoovenEsence. Crake is designing the Crakers-a new, multicolored placid race of human beings, smelling vaguely of citron. He's procured Oryx to be his personal assistant. She teaches the Crakers how to cope in the world and goes out on secret missions. The mystery on which this riveting, disturbing tale hinges is how Crake and Oryx and civilization vanished, and how Jimmy-who also calls himself "the Snowman," after that other rare, hunted specimen, the Abominable Snowman-survived.

Oryx and Crake was simply amazing. The story was told by "Snowman," the adult post-apocalyptic version of the main character, Jimmy, and written in a mix of flashback and present day scenes. We learn about Jimmy's childhood in what is thought to be a genetically engineered utopia, Through Jimmy, we meet Crake, his friend who believes their world is flawed and ultimately dreams of creating his own, different version of utopia. In constantly trying to create something better than what they have, this world's civilization disintegrates, leaving Snowman believing himself to be the only completely natural human being alive.

The world is full of fantastically spliced animals, genetically engineered food and strange, yet useful, gadgets. This dystopian tale is so extreme in its exaggeration it becomes more dark humor than anything else. The premise is ridiculous, yet horrifically scary.

The book was so much better than even my wildest expectations. It has all of the socially conscious terror Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale showcased, but with a large dose of comic cynicism thrown in to the mix. Oryx and Crake is weirdly funny, bizarrely entertaining, freakishly scary and outlandishly possible.


Margaret Atwood's


  1. I have this book and I wondered if it was good. It sounded very interesting in the synopsis. Now, based on your expert opinion (and the fact that we share eclectic reading taste), I know I will enjoy it! It just inched a little closer to the top of the TBR iceberg. Great review!

  2. Though I do not usually read Margaret Atwood,this one sounds really interesting!

  3. I loved this book. I read it several years ago so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but there are a few scenes that remain sharp in my mind to this day (while most stories just start to blend together after awhile). Awesome book. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, too. :)

  4. I am so glad you liked this! It's one of my all time favorite books! :)

  5. I love things that are exaggerated to the extreme! I've been wanting to read something else by Margaret Atwood - looks like it might be this!

  6. your review has won me over, i'm definately going to read this now!

  7. I have this book, but not yet read it. I'm happy you have given it 5 shots! It will be one of the next I am going to read!*_*

  8. For some reason I started with "The Year of the Flood" which I'm listening to now, but I need to go back and read this one afterwards. I don't know if the order matters. "Oryx and Crake" is definitely next.

  9. I was blown away by this book. It has been a few years, though... time for a reread!

    Glad you liked it.

  10. I'm dying to read some more Atwood!

    So wonderful to see how much you enjoyed Oryx and Crake. I love that Atwood can really make you think.

  11. As soon as this book is available in paperback in Manila I will for sure buy it-great post that really makes me want to read this book