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Oryx and Crake | [Margaret Atwood]

Oryx and Crake

As the story opens, Snowman is sleeping in a tree, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes - into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.
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Publisher's Summary

The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes - into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Doug Wilsonville, OR, USA 07-21-03
    Doug Wilsonville, OR, USA 07-21-03 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Scary Stuff"

    Atwood does her usual great job of not only telling a gripping tale, but of cautioning us about the costs of technology in terms of not only the effect on our planet, but also on our society. I haven't been this concerned about our future since I read Nature's End back in the 80's.

    The story takes place in two times, one the "present" day, sometime in the not too distant future, and the other outlining how things got to where they are. The latter is told very close to a linear fashion, but Atwood mixes things up to match up with the present day story.

    Campbell Scott (son of George C.) is disarmingly laid back in his reading, but I felt he captured the inner thinkings of Jimmy/Snowman perfectly. He is a very consistent reader, important as the book has several repeating themes.

    I liked the book well enough that I stopped listening about 1.5 hours from the end, and started over to hear it with my wife on a recent car trip. It held up incredibly well, and in fact I found my enjoyment increasing as I was able to note foreshadowing I'd missed in the first listen.

    Some have said the ending fizzles, but in truth the back story comes to a very satisfactory conclusion, while the current story ends with a moral dilemma. Some don't like books that don't end with a tidy bow, but I'm not among them. I was quite pleased with the ending overall, the only book I've read recently with an equally satisfying ending was Gaiman's American Gods.

    The writing is tight and consistent, the reader does a great job, and the story is tense and rich in plot and characters. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good story or is concerned about the costs of genetic engineering.

    37 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Jefferson City, MO, United States 08-22-03
    Anthony Jefferson City, MO, United States 08-22-03 Member Since 2002

    I am an attorney and author in Jefferson City, MO.

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    "Exceptional Vision"

    Every once in a while an author comes along with an exceptional command of the language and a full understanding of what it takes to create the future based on threads of the past. This is one such book. Drawing on the rapidly evolving science of genetics and genetic research, Oryx and Crake revolves around a time in the future when the world has gone suddenly and powerfully wrong.
    If you require an author to lay things out chronologically, be prepared to be disappointed. The book jumps its point of view from present to past, and often without a clear description of which is which. But it requires the listener to pay close attention.
    The theme of the book is the basis for human and social interaction focusing on the relationship between sex and population, genetically engineered food and starvation. The subthemes running through the book (e.g., radical environmental groups) are almost as disturbing as the subject matter is interesting.
    I loved this book, and I am not one to much like science fiction. But this book is as much a portrait of modern day corporate america as it is a projection of the future.
    If you read through this book and are not engrossed and overcome at some point by the possibility of a world as described, then you are not paying close attention.
    I thoroughly recommend this book.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig S 08-22-03
    Craig S 08-22-03 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Finally, I liked an Atwood book"

    Like many Canadians, I was "forced" to read Margaret Atwood books in high school. Sorry to say but I found her work boring, long-winded and depressing. It is also fair to say, Ms. Atwood does not like happy endings either.

    I am thrilled to report Oryx and Crake is merely "depressing". The author succeeded in creating a realistic and rich image of the future gone bad. Depressing? Yes - as it should be.

    Several reviewers have noted that the "flashbacks" in this book were distracting. I found them facinating. My challenge thoughout was to answer (as early as I could): "how did things get this way?".

    Other have complained that the ending was weak. Perhaps it could have been more complete. But maybe the book ended on the first page. The future of the protagonistic "Snowman" may be less important than his legacy that will realized through his adopted "children".

    I give the book 4/5 because of all the Atwood books I was forced to read 20 years ago. One mark off for past pain and suffering :-)

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael San Francisco, CA, USA 05-20-03
    Michael San Francisco, CA, USA 05-20-03
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    "Brilliant Science Fiction"

    A brilliant work of science fiction by Margaret Atwood. This story is a future vision based on the evolution of genetic sciences. It revolves around two childhood friends, Jimmy and Glenn, later "Snowman" and "Crake," and their mutual obsession with a beautiful Asian girl, named "Oryx." The character development is superb, particularly that of Jimmy/Snowman, and Oryx. Every word in this story is important; there are no wasted moments. This novel elevates the form of science fiction to a new level. I highly recommend this audiobook.

    92 of 98 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crystal Belmont, MA, USA 09-25-03
    Crystal Belmont, MA, USA 09-25-03
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    "Mesmerizing"

    This is truly Atwood at her finest. I typically prefer to read such gems curled up on the couch, but I'm very glad I picked this one in audio format. Campbell Scott's reading is perfect, bewitching the reader right into the story.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Starlet San Carlos, CA, United States 02-03-06
    Starlet San Carlos, CA, United States 02-03-06 Member Since 2005
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    "The Subject Stays With You"

    I love Margaret Atwood as an author and was looking forward to reading another one of her books, even though the book title seemed a little odd. Also, the subject matter seemed a bit of a departure, but then I remembered The Handmaids Tale -- a fictional account of the future – and it is one of my very favorite books by Margaret Atwood

    When I finished with Oryx and Crake, I was going to give it 4 stars, even though I loved it. However, it's been about 4 weeks since I finished and I STILL think of it's contents and portrayal of the future – news stories I hear and read, speeches from officials, CEO’s, etc., all make me think about this book! I think about How This Could Really Happen and, in fact, it seems we are on our way already -- and that it's not a far fetched concept at all. I think it’s an important book to read and it’s enjoyable to boot. Anytime one thinks about a book or movie long after it’s over, it deserves the higher mark!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Morgan 03-13-06
    Morgan 03-13-06
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    "Excellent"

    This is a dark and absorbing listen that calls to mind other poetic dystopias: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy and The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. I'll listen to it again. This is a book that haunts.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 11-04-03
    Michael 11-04-03
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    "I Enjoyed This Book"

    This is a well-written "end of the world as we know it" book that reminds me of 1950's science fiction. Those old sci-fi tales warned of the dangers of the new atomic age while this author envisions a future where genetic engineering has gone wild.
    I don't object to the non-linear time line of the book and I don't agree with those that feel that the ending is a mystery. Careful readers will pick up on the big clue Atwood gives us at the end.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Dearborn, MI, USA 12-24-03
    Jim Dearborn, MI, USA 12-24-03
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    "If you love Margaret Atwood, listen to this book."

    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.

    21 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 03-24-14
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2005
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    "one of Atwoods great novels"

    this is a great book, very well researched and presented. I remember when this first came out there was a web link to info regarding her research and it was rather disturbing how little she altered things. she said she took existing conditions, (like religion in Handmaid) and extrapolated some possible progressions in the near future regarding food and genetic engineering and the internet etc. She was rather accurate in some ways and this is a great book, with lots of excellent word play too regarding names of companies and games and websites and many related developments have actually occurred recently and are becoming of concern. best of the trilogy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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