This is the third (and probably last) Margaret Atwood book I've read/listened to. From Surfacing and The Handmaid's Tale to Oryx and Crake, I have yet to find any of her work that can be described without using the word "bleak." She is clearly a writer of skill and depth, as well as renown, but reading her novels, for me, is like layering heavy blanket upon heavy blanket of despair, and I finish them only so I can throw off the accumulated weight. I always end up thinking she would be very much at home teaching a workshop in German Existentialsim, where the burden of our very existence is paralysing.
Hopefully this review will make up for my rather negative review of Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" which I know many love, but I found lacking a bit. (I'm sorry!) I won't repeat that review's discussion about which elements I think are necessary to create great dystopian/utopian tales, but I will say that this book surpasses most of my beloved books in this (my favorite) genre exponentially. It adds a new factor to the oft pondered conundrum as to whether or not a perfect utopian society could flourish or even survive long considering the oft dystopian-ish behavior/nature of homo sapien sapiens and/or if the good in people can long survive dystopian type tyrants/governmental systems. Can splicing in and out selective genes, behavior patterns, sexually based actions and consequences, etc. create a utopian people who can survive in a spliced/un-spliced world? However, this is only one of many awe-inspiring concepts to consider as Atwood deftly builds and unveils the mind-bending world of Oryx and Crake and the complex characters, corporate powers; the humming, shattered yet effervescent environment, the multi-level societal structures and situations, the resulting decision conundrums and so on. She draws you in and you can go there, live among the characters, loving some hating others...ponder and wonder accept or try to reject the consequences of actions. I've read this over five times now and it just gets better. Be sure to read this before "The Year of the Flood" which takes place in the same world at the same time but from other fascinating viewpoints and treats the reader with some awesome revelations, my favorite characters ever almost, all the while adding new ways and things to ponder.
The great narration, coupled with Atwood's imagination made this a memorable ride. Well worth the time! I would like to see more stories like this one.
This is not a space opera. No heroes jumping out to shoot things. No space battles, no race against the clock to save mankind.
The novel is a tapestry of relationships; the relationships of the characters to their families, to each other, and to society at large. It shows a relationship between people and the strange new capabilities of biotechnology. It presents a portrait of a technocratic hegemony as an economic system and a means of government, and follows this to its logical conclusion.
It shows the personal relationships of the three primary characters: Oryx, Crake, and Snowman.
It is these relationships that are the most important aspect to me. These relationships are distant and disaffected. Without these relationships the nightmares presented could not take place.
The novel was quite enjoyable. The plot is a gradually revealed reflection. Take your time. Breathe with the characters, and you should enjoy it quite a bit.
I just listened to this while vacationing on the beach in Florida and it was a perfect "listen" while walking up and down the beach. Beautifully narrated, this tale was totally engrossing from the beginning. As a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I was thrilled with this very original plot. I found the writing extremely visual. It just ended too soon! This work compares to "The Handmaid's Tale" and totally outshines Atwood's "The Blind Assassin".
Richard Hammond: "Welcome to Jurassic Park!" ...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: "God help us we're in the hands of engineers." ..."Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn't stop to think if they should."
Oryx & Crake is like looking at our world through a horribly warped window -- corporate communities, bioengineering, tissue regeneration, and wild hybrids like *pigoons*, *rackunks*, *wolvogs*, and the delicious *chickienobs* (if you've eaten chicken nuggets...you never will again). Atwood again makes a powerful eloquent statement that won't sit well with all readers. Reminiscent of reading Brave New World, Robinson Crusoe, The Last Man, and Matheson surely must have read this book to write his I Am Legend. The ending, so problematic to readers, reminded me of the last scene in Planet of the Apes -- adapted from the French novel by Pierre Boulle -- an impactful scene that left more questions than answers.
I'm convinced that what Atwood has in her office, next to her typewriter and pads of paper, that no other author has is a crystal ball. Written in 2003 (and short-listed for the Booker award) this novel still is frighteningly accurate and prophetic, and if you don't think so just research GMO's, *Frankenfoods*, global warming, or even dig into the Monsanto company (which seems to be represented here with *OrganInc Farms*). I found that the advantage to reading this book 10 yrs. after it was published is being able to read so many good reviews, ranging from 5* to 1*, and putting them in perspective. This is a novel that will impact people very differently, and while it wasn't my favorite Atwood book, it was intriguing and left me looking at the world differently, and I do recommend to readers that like a bleak, but intelligent apocalyptic experience. Thought-provoking look at science run totally amok, with a healthy dose of Freud's Eros and Thanatos thrown in just to mess with your head.
Dr. Ian Malcolm: ..."The complete lack of humility for nature that's being displayed here is staggering."
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
Post-apocalyptic sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I was excite to venture into Atwood's grim vision of the future.
...but I quickly found myself frustrated and bored. The narration jumps back and forth from present day to pre-collapse, which kills any dramatic build up inherent to the story. Take this tale and tell it linearly, chronologically, and you've got a much more engaging read.
This tale is particularly bleak, even within the context of the already depressing genre. Of all the apocalypse scenarios, the most frustrating are the ones where humanity destroys itself through incompetence and malice. In Atwood's future, there isn't a single likable, relatable human to be found, and I'm glad they all died.
The book ends on a note of perfect ambiguity, which is an annoying and cowardly technique that should have been retired forever after "The Lady Or the Tiger?", Frank Stockton's short story, which has been annoying readers for over a hundred years.
If I enjoyed ambiguous endings, I could take any book in the world and stop reading just shy of the last chapter. But that's not why I read books. I read books because I want to explore a story: Beginning, middle, AND end.
This one left me high and dry.
Worse than leaving us with an ambiguous scene, the novel actually leaves off right where the entire story might have gotten interesting. Atwood spent hours of our time painfully dragging us through the backstory just to find out where we were at the start of the novel. Now, at last we know what's going on, leaving us to wonder: "how will our characters deal with this world?"
I guess I'll have to buy the sequel to find out. Except I won't. I don't reward authors who waste my time.
Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is a grim, depressing tale of well laid plans and good intentions going horribly awry. Snowman / Jimmy narrates an account of multiple, unrelated genetic engineering attempts to improve man combined with unchecked global warming leading to unsustainability for the human race. Jimmy, who may be the last remaining human lives with "meta-humans" that represent various attempts to overcome increasingly hostile conditions, relates the history in a series of flashbacks. Jimmy chronicles all the missteps along the way that caused the eventual plague that brought mankind low. While Jimmy was not directly involved, he peripherally participated.
The sci-fi elements mostly relate to genetic engineering that forms the bulk of intentional human transformation. The broader theme of the tale is one of powerful technology colliding with more traditional human response to change. The Luddites and anti-Luddites combine in a toxic soup that spells disaster for mankind resulting a world populated with semi-intelligent, but physically adapted proto-humans and Jimmy. There is nothing upbeat about the tale; man's hubris is simply on display.
The narration is quite well done given that the whole story is itself written in the narration mode.
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
I really liked this one! It was my first Margaret Atwood selection and it definitely won't be the last. The story jumps around a bit but not to the point where it was confusing - it kept me guessing and trying to determine how the heck the character got into the predicament he was in. I found myself wondering what I would've done in his situation - if society collapsed and I was tasked with explaining life on earth to "newcomers"........ well, the possibilities boggle the mind. The commentary on modern technology and the implications of messing with our genetic makeup in a quest to achieve human perfection is handled beautifully in this story - everyone has that line they won't cross but everyone's line is in a different place so where do we stop? Slavery and abuse of those who cannot defend themselves is disgusting - but it is plausible that the victims actually believe the abusers are protecting them. Lots of thought-provoking, entertaining writing and a great narrator - an easy recommendation for Oryx and Crake.
This is going on my short list of best novels I've read. My only complaint is it was too short, and I've hoping for a continuation in another book as Atwood basically leaves you at a cliffhanger of sorts, but from what I can see a sequel from Atwood is unlikely...and it's almost 2007. Regardless, still a gripping and compelling story, a glimpse of a possible future given the state of the world today.