I got through a little over 4.5 hours of the 10 hour book and just had to set it aside, which is unusual for me. Sure, the book is bleak and dark, set in a world where we've genetically modified everything, and the first 20 minutes or so I found completely awesome, but over the next 3 hours, I found myself caring less and less about the main character and came to the conclusion that I've read stories like this before, and seen them done better. EARTH ABIDES comes to mind. Hell, FEED, a post-apocolyptic zombie novel where bloggers are the real news reporters is set in a more believable and well thought-out world than ORYX AND CRAKE, which somehow managed to be both simplistic and over the top while leaving me emotionally cold.
I guess this is the book I should have expected by an author who was offended when two of her books (O&K and HT) were labeled sci-fi. "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen... ORYX AND CRAKE is a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians... Science fiction (as opposed to what she wrote) is talking squids in outer space." A smidgen more understanding of how good sci-fi works would have made this story much more enjoyable.
Let me start with the narration: it comes off a little monotonous and flat. The narrator does a decent job of giving each character a unique voice, but a little more life in the dialog would have been an improvement.
As for the story itself, I found it excellent. The story unfolds intriguingly, the characters are well developed, and the dialog is very well done. It shows a very realistic view of the more base aspects of life. The main character really captures the feelings of being caught in the grind of life, underachieving, the twisted aspects of romantic relationships, and the general drudgery of life.
A minor flaw, in my opinion, is the fact that some of the social commentary is a little obvious. The author takes swipes at corporate greed and consumerism that seem a little forced.
Overall, I found this to be an excellent book, with good narration. I would highly recommend it.
Campbell Scott's voice makes this tremendous story all the more unforgettable. His voice is haunting as Snowman, while the sing-songy tones of the children still reverberate in my mind months later. Atwood does not disappoint; her craftsmanship is just as fine here as in previous books. As in most of her writings, she forces us to think about our actions and how those actions can affect the future -- not only our future, but the future of mankind.
I have to echo the sentiments of others here. I liked the way the story was presented, but it stops like the author hit some word-limit. The last line is "Zero-hour. Time to go." and the story just stops. There is nothing that would indicate what the main character will do next, and nothing to indicate where the story might lead. It is so open-ended that you feel cheated and like you just wasted all those hours. It's like somebody tore the book in half and you didn't know it until you hit the spot where there's nothing more to the book. This technique works okay for a short story, but not one that is 10 hours long. Don't waste your time unless you have a lot of time to waste and don't care about what happens at the end. You'll never know.
The characters are interesting, but the development is sketchy; the idea of a world where bio-engineering has gone wild is both fascinating and frightening. The story is told in a series of flashbacks; that may have something to do with the jumpy feeling of the book. It is read very well, and I was not ready for the ending when it came.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I have to give Atwood credit. Her depiction of the Crakers shows a lot more imagination than most of the aliens invented by the sci-fi mainstream. At the same time, she manages to tap in to our key hopes and fears about genetic manipulation. And all this is merely a sideshow on top of a clever parable that extrapolates the social ills of today to a possible cataclysmic conclusion.
Atwood throws us into a chaotic present and only slowly fills us in on how things got this way. It's a device that suits this book perfectly, since our narrator only now has the time to reflect on it all. I'm not sure, when all is said and done, that the core story on which she bases it all is solid enough to support the outcome. One is reminded of Rick's comment in Casablanca that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this world. But one is also reminded of Margaret Mead's comment that only the determination of small groups of people have ever succeeded in changing anything.
Still, Atwood manages to evoke multiple ancestral myths, and who is to say that our own culture doesn't have an equally sordid origin. Is Snowman a stand in for Prometheus? For Satan? For Judas? Or just a sad dupe left to clean up the mess? Or something else?
Snowman, sadly, is not quite interesting enough to be the protagonist of his own story. And that name never did quite work for me. It seemed to lack the imagination shown by the rest of the book. Or maybe that was the point. Regardless, the book was intriguing enough that I definitely plan to read the rest of the trilogy.
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
What a fascinating book! I've read a good deal of dystopian fiction, so this genre is not new to me. Margaret Atwood's superb prose and skillful plotting created a story that kept me riveted from beginning to end. She is peerless in deciding what to tell her readers and when to reveal that information. The scenario is all too plausible and the characterization is excellent. She is simply a fantastic writer. I've been reading her work for almost 40 years, and she just gets better.
Campbell Scott's narration was excellent as well. It would have been easy to overdo this book, but he uses just the right amount of emotion. Highly recommended.
a very strange, very enthralling tale of the apocalypse. such a strangely imagined world with so many strange characters and things. not a perfect book by any means. it left me feeling unfulfilled, but perhaps it was meant to?
Atwood was utterly unable to break from cliche in this novel, despite the imaginative veneer. We get the ambitious scientist and the moralist who says we shouldn't mess with nature. We get the math guy who reduces art to biology. We get the victim who forgives. The philosophies, the conversations, and the ideas are all things we've seen before. The characters are simple, cardboard cutouts, who don't seem to struggle internally.
That said, the narration of this audiobook is horrendous, the worst I've ever witnessed among the many books on this site. The narrator sounded drugged, did not have different voices for different characters, would not emulate shouting or whispering, and did not seem to have 'empathy' -- he couldn't get into the characters. It was almost like having a computerized text-to-speech rather than a human reader.
once I got hooked I couldn't get this book out of my head. Listened to The Year of the Flood right afterwards and then came back to listen to this again- so well done. I can't recommend both books enough.