Martin is the most talented author in the Genre since The Professor made it respectable... it's as simple as that.
If you have not read/listened to these books and you enjoy fantasy, you owe it to yourself to do so. Solid multidimensional characters, deep plot, good imagery (not Tolkien level but good nonetheless)... these books have everything. The most annoying part of the books is that you get so deep into each character that when he switches to a different one you get mad, only to get into that character and get mad when he switches back. Then of course there's his propensity for killing off main characters... don't get too attached to anyone!
Well first of all I have to say that I didn't like the story. I realize it was intended as a cautionary tale but it went so overboard that I couldn't buy into it. It was morbid, depressing, and filled with shallow self centered dullards (even the brilliant characters). Snowman wallowed in misery, Jimmy was corrupted by an amoral humantiy, Crake had the ascerbic self hating wit but lacked the underlying intelligence that I'd expect in the character, and Oryx had the personality consistancy of pudding... an invertebrate with boobs. The Crakers were interesting but undeveloped, window dressing, a plot device.
The father figures in the early portion of the tale were one dimensional boors, the only character with a spark of something more was Jimmy's mother. The vast majority of the men in the story were evil caricatures that enabled Jimmy to exhibit unrealistic and hypocritical righteous indignation, although some were allowed redeeming values (oh joy). The women were mostly boring diversions assisting Jimmy on his fall from whatever grace he started with.
I felt no sympathy for anyone in the entire book, no empathy, no attachment. I didn't care that the whole world was wiped out... who'd want to live in such a place, not I certainly.
Having said all that... I have to say that I recommend the book. Atwoods narrative is skilled and refreshingly novel for Sci-Fi. Her imagery isn't broad but grounds the reader in the 'here and now' of her characters, an excellent sense of presence. The plot is simple but that's not the focus of the story. The character development doesn't really illuminate subconscious motives but provides a glimpse at the rationalizations that her characters use to justify self-destructive (and just plain destructive) behaviors.
It's not a book that I'd read twice but I think it's worth a read for the things it does well. Overall I enjoyed listening to the book... ironic as that may sound after the above lambasting.
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