Margaret Atwood's classic novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed. It's much worse and bleaker. And we're well on the road to it now. The narrator is Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy), self-named though not self-created. As the story begins, he's sleeping in a tree, wearing a dirty old ...
Margaret Atwood's classic novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed. It's much worse and bleaker. And we're well on the road to it now. The narrator is Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy), self-named though not self-created. As the story begins, he's sleeping in a tree, wearing a dirty old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beautiful and beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. Earlier, Snowman's life was one of comparative privilege. Crake and Jimmy live with all the other smart, rich people in the Compounds - gated company towns owned by biotech corporations. (Ordinary folks are kept outside the gates in the chaotic 'pleeblands'.) Meanwhile, beautiful Oryx, raised as a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, finds her way to the West and meets Crake and Jimmy, setting up an inevitable love triangle. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Was he himself in any way responsible? Why is he now left alone with his bizarre memories - except for the more-than-perfect, 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 a less-than-brave new world, an outlandish yet wholly believable space populated by a cast of characters who will continue to inhabit your dreams long after the last chapter
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Oct 8, 2010
Thoroughly inundated with intertextuality: the Bible, Huxley, Orwell, etc. Similar to Huxley with the theme of a dystopian future and genetic engineering gone awry, or at least taken to its most extreme. I was surprised with many of Atwood's ideas and found them quite creative. I appreciate that she uses certain words in order to preserve them or save them from obscurity (brainfart, for example), but it would have been better to use them in context instead of listing them in Snowman's thoughts.
Also, the theme of genetic engineering taken to the extreme has been done before: Huxley's "Brave New World" and Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar," for examples. The problem is that, even though Atwood attempts to update this trope by including technology since those books appeared (the Internet, chat rooms, etc.), she offers nothing new to the story and Brunner and Orwell told the story better.
Aug 5, 2009
Oryx and Crake is at once beautiful and unsettling, thoughtful and terrifying, imaginative and down-to-earth.
Nov 6, 2008
It is excellent IF you enjoy reading about possible future scenarios here on eart. A future that does not have aliens, but just of science gone out-of-control. One that makes you think about the way we are headed.
Sep 28, 2008
A book worth reading!
This is the first book I read from Margaret Atwood. I found it very interesting and scarily realistic. We are living days of profound changes all around the world, both socially and environmentally oriented, and the author gives us a glimpse of a situation that could possibly become true in the future. The story is easy to read and follow, and it captures the reader's attention from the very first chapter. I will definitely purchase another book by this author.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-04-07 Atwood has visited the future before, in her dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale. In her latest, the future is even bleaker. The triple whammy of runaway social inequality, genetic technology and catastrophic climate change, has finally culminated in some apocalyptic event. As Jimmy, apparently the last human being on earth, makes his way back to the RejoovenEsencecompound for supplies, the reader is transported backwards toward that cataclysmic event, its full dimensions gradually revealed. Jimmy grew up in a world split between corporate compounds (gated communities metastasized into city-states) and pleeblands (unsafe, populous and polluted urban centers). His best friend was "Crake," the name originally his handle in an interactive Net game, Extinctathon. Even Jimmy's mother-who ran off and joined an ecology guerrilla group when Jimmy was an adolescent-respected Crake, already a budding genius. The two friends first encountered Oryx on the Net; she was the eight-year-old star of a pedophilic film on a site called HottTotts. Oryx's story is a counterpoint to Jimmy and Crake's affluent adolescence. She was sold by her Southeast Asian parents, taken to the city and eventually made into a sex "pixie" in some distant country. Jimmy meets Oryx much later-after college, after Crake gets Jimmy a job with ReJoovenEsence. Crake is designing the Crakers-a new, multicolored placid race of human beings, smelling vaguely of citron. He's procured Oryx to be his personal assistant. She teaches the Crakers how to cope in the world and goes out on secret missions. The mystery on which this riveting, disturbing tale hinges is how Crake and Oryx and civilization vanished, and how Jimmy-who also calls himself "the Snowman," after that other rare, hunted specimen, the Abominable Snowman-survived. Chesterton once wrote of the "thousand romances that lie secreted in The Origin of Species." Atwood has extracted one of the most hair-raising of them, and one of the most brilliant. (May 6) Forecast: Readers who know Atwood primarily as the author of The Handmaid's Tale will be thrilled by this return to the future; those who follow her work more closely will be even more impressed. This is a potential dystopian classic and should sell accordingly. Author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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