With breathtaking command of her shocking material, and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into an outlandish yet wholly believable realm populated by characters who will continue to inhabit our dreams long after the last chapter. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers.
©2002 O.W. Toad, Ltd.; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Absorbing...expertly rendered...Virtuosic storytelling [is] on display." (The New York Times) "Chesterton once wrote of the 'thousand romances that lie secreted in the Origin of the Species.' Atwood has extracted one of the most hair-raising of them all, and one of the most brilliant." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a really well written book and well-read audio experience. Some readers might find the ending a bit disappointing, but it is appropriate for the journey the main character makes. The writing is creative, visual, amusing, and heartbreaking. Definitely a book for you if you like tales of apocalyptic peril, science fiction with good emotional characters, or the subject of genetic engineering.
I love apocalyptic stories, and I was intrigued by the premise of this book, yet was honestly a bit disappointed by it. It's not a bad story, though I could see where some would be put off by the abrupt ending. The characters are okay, the narration solid. Why didn't I enjoy it, then? Perhaps because from the start of the tale, the world is already falling apart, so when the event happens that REALLY sends things over the edge, I didn't really care. Also, the protagonist is not very likable. He tends toward self-pity, delusion, and second-guessing events he had no control over. It is never clear why he trounces around in a bed sheet, or why he has so few provisions, or why he lives in a tree instead of constructing or adapting better quarters. Perhaps because his state makes him more pitiable? I don't know. Also, all of humanity aside from a handful of characters was pretty much invisible and are treated as non-consequential, so when the world does start dying off, the event is abstract and impersonal. Since I didn't care for the main character, and humanity was a no-show for the plot, the end of the world was just not that moving. At least for me.
Audible Member Since 2003
Despite lukewarm reviews, I purchased this book because I love some of Margaret Atwood's other works, especially "The Blind Assasin." Having listed to "Oryx and Crake" I concur with those less than stellar reviews. The book seems like it was written in a hurry and concludes with a abrupt open-ending. Fairly lame and sophomoric science fiction, especially for a writer as good as Atwood.
I listened for a couple of hours, but it seemed to go nowhere. My wife - a fan of the print versin - encouraged me to push on. I was very glad that I did, as once over a rather dry first act, it starts pulling along with it's own momentum. The final chapters are as exciting, and clever as any I have read in science fiction.
And 5 stars for Bruce Cambell! Of the couple dozen titles I have listened to, he is one of the best narrators I have come across.
Great ideas, good enough story, and excellent narrator. It would be 5 stars, but the first third is too slow so 4.5.
I am a great fan of Atwood, but not her speculative fiction. This book, like "The Handmaid's Tale", screams "Author's Message" in every sentence. It is overwrought, obvious. The characters are at best two-dimensional, and seem to be symbols standing in for traits, rather than real people possessing those traits. I found Oryx to be particularly irritating, a Western stereotype of an Asian female. This is especially annoying coming from a writer who is supposedly one of the greats in feminist fiction.
Crake is similarly a stick-figure genius, and for such a smart guy his choices are pretty dumb. His naive, new-agey Crakers would last about a day in a wilderness filled with rampaging pigoons, wolvogs, and bobkittens. Atwood's attempts to shroud him in mystery seem an inelegant attempt to deflect closer examination of his motives, which don't hold together. Jimmy / Snowman is only slightly more compelling. A great deal is made out of how he is not a genius like Crake, but at times he seems closer to mentally retarded. I can't believe anybody would be so clueless about survival, even if they had been brought up in a cocoon.
Despite these flaws, at times I found the audiobook hard to put down. I wanted to find out what had happened. But by the end of the book I felt cheated and manipulated by the same kinds of tricks that writers of cheap suspense novels use. The backstory was not that interesting, and has been done better before. Comparisons to other popular works are obvious.
The ending is hollow and unsatisfying. It has neither the happy ending of a cheap suspense novel, nor the bleak ending it seemed headed for. I think that this is because the story had no logical place to land - Atwood's point was in the build-up, so why waste time crafting a reasonable ending?
I give it three stars because the world is well-visualized, and because Campbell Scott's reading is superb. Atwood should stick with complex character situations, as in "Cat's Eye."
First, I listened because I had paid and then I finished to be able to give credible warning. This book is not recommended.
The characters are as empty and scorched as the twisted, sickened wilderness they inhabit. Morality and hope are both drowned in Atwood's a new world of overpopulated, super-sexual, genetically modified madness. The keys to wealth and power are in genetic engineering and materialism has taken over society. However, this reality and the inscrutable, wooden characters that inhabit it exist only in the memory of a sad, stupid man who has survived the viral apocalypse brought on by his friend Crake to end the horror that humanity has made of itself. He is charged with shepherding Crake?s children who are derived from humans, engineered to live without suffering, malice or need for predation.
To call this science fiction is a misnomer. It?s a grim, amoral fantasyland made vaguely credible by the unfathomable potential that laymen see in today?s biology and in the ills of our own society. Similarly, the characters are never fully made real, being nearly as incredulous as the premise. They are only hollow expressions of what Atwood seems to think is the logical extension of today?s culture and values?just as poorly justified as the scientific future that makes the society possible.
The worst horrors of materialism and sexuality are put on display for us in this sort of false-color picture of our future. The great Crake manages to snuff it all out, perhaps permanently, and to create a nobler innocent form of humanity in the process. Genesis rewound. Would such a genius be ignorant of evolution-?the survival of the fittest--that this mechanism would destroy his creation? It?s doubtful. Did he ever show any disposition to hate the society that made him in the first place? Barely. These sorts of questions will plague the thoughtful reader thru ought the story, leaving it a limp, maddeningly inept fantasy.
This book contains a lot of very interesting ideas, but they are not woven together into a compelling story line. The end in particular left me feeling annoyed at having spent hours waiting for the book to develop on its early promise. With a good editor, this book could have been exceptional.
This book captured my attention from beginning to end. The author provided just enough description and life to each main character and scene without overdoing it. I must say this book somewhat frightened me due to the (strong) possibility that the world could actually evolve into the type of place the author so thoroughly described.
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