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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.

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall

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.

70 of 71 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story


Nobody does melancholy like Atwood, along with pathetic sad and depressed people. A lot of the book is a guy in the future laying around remembering his depressed mother. Genetics plays a big role in the book, but it is not exciting genetics, it's things we should not have done or shouldn't do. Atwood is a brilliant writer, but she depresses me to the point of boredom in this book. Brings up some very important questions as mankind continues to develop genetically. What should we do and what should we not do? If you like sad, sad movies, you might love this.

61 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • T.C.
  • Texas, United States
  • 08-18-03

A mediocre tale with a disappointing conclusion...

This book takes a raw look at the future, and it's not pretty. The story is a long narrative as told from the viewpoint of Snowman, a man trapped in a bleak fight for survival. I found the beginning of the book to be quite slow. The second half picked up nicely and put the pieces together well enough, though. The story and the author's view of future life on planet earth are disturbing because as with any good fictional work they are woven with so many threads of truth. Despite this, I did not find this to be a particularly good book. Now, I do not have to have my stories wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow, however the ending to this book takes that premise way too far. I found the book's conclusion very unsatisfying. Campbell Scott does a very good job of narrating and setting the tone for the story, but he can't raise this novel up from the mediocre.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

37 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 05-20-03

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.

105 of 113 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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 :-)

32 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The lady or the tiger?

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.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Starlet
  • San Carlos, CA, United States
  • 02-03-06

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!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matthew
  • Smithfield, VA, United States
  • 07-17-03

Pretty good but...

Overall this was a good story, and it really made me think about possible futures for our society, which I suspect was the author's intent. The narrator was also good. What I didn't like about it was how much of the story relied on flashbacks. There was very little action that was occuring in the present. The ending was also a little disappointing, because it was a complete cliffhanger, so i'm not sure if she was leaving it open for a sequel or what. Overall, a pretty good book I suggest you listen to.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Crystal
  • Belmont, MA, USA
  • 09-25-03


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 11 people found this review helpful