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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake (2003)

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: MaddAddam Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,292451274 (3.96)2 / 1128
Snowman may be the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in isolation and loneliness, trawling through the past - the disappearance of his mother and the arrival of his mysterious childhood companions Oryx and Crake.
  1. 241
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    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (Oct326, goodiegoodie)
    Oct326: Both post-apocalyptic novels, Atwood's one is satyric and sarcastic, and skilfully projects some trends of current society in a not-too-far future, suggesting that they can lead us to catastrophe; while Miller's one is very sad, even tragic, deeply pessimistic about humanity, which it describes as inherently stupid and evil, and inevitably bound to repeat its mistakes and destroy itself.… (more)
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    1984 by George Orwell (Valari2)
    Valari2: It's another take of where the future might take us.
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    The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (mcenroeucsb)
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(see all 31 recommendations)


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English (438)  Swedish (3)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (450)
Showing 1-5 of 438 (next | show all)
  jshttnbm | May 14, 2020 |
Atwood has created a well thought out, well written, and a detailed post apocalyptic novel that others will be measured against. The style of this book along with the writing is what sets it apart. This is not a heavy action novel, nor is the world very different from countless other fictional ones. The characters are very identifiable but not really remarkable. The cause of the worlds end is often the subject but it is not the star or the center of this book.

The structure of the book is very similar to that of "The Handmaid's Tale." So if you liked the writing style of that book, with constant shift of tenses, past and present mingled together, you'll enjoy "Oryx and Crake" as well. Once again, Atwood takes a current trend of bio/genetic engineering and expands it to an extreme, creating a world of social disparity, violence, genetic hybrids, raging man-made viruses, and much more. The author's imagination is limitless, and her command of English language is mind-blowing. This book is so much more than a science fiction novel that it so often labeled. It is a deeply philosophical book that raises many questions. It is also a novel that stays with you, making you think about it all for a very long time afterwards.

Atwood is comparing the depravity of society with a engineered race that asks the question what is better: innocence without substance or depravity with the complexities of the human mind that include creativity and appreciation for beauty? Does the human race deserve to live with the power we have to destroy our planet and ourselves? When is artificial too much? Image alterations, genetically engineered animals, or even mankind? What are the repercussions of the world we are now creating? The gap between rich and poor has grown even wider; animals are genetically created with multiple organs and human DNA; and the commoditization of human life has stretched to an extreme degree, even with sexuality The thing that creeps me out the most about this story, is just how plausible it is. It's really not a stretch to say that in the not-so-distant future the world will be run by giant corporations, and science will cross over ethical boundaries in pursuit of profit for said corporations. It kind of makes me sad ... and somewhat afraid of the grocery store.

I, for one, was sad that the novel ended the way it did; but only because I needed to know what happened next, almost desperately. I am guessing my downloading of the next novel in the series will be very high on my reading list, and very soon.
I enjoyed reading this book for her prose, the well written characters, and the questions it raised about the current state of our society.

A thought provoking and enjoyable read. Read this novel. You will be happy that you did. Atwood is a master of her genre. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Uncomfortable reading, perceptive writing. Hooked me in eventually. ( )
  DougLasT | Apr 27, 2020 |
Why read a dystopian novel during a pandemic? Three reasons: it was a gift from someone whose taste I appreciate; I never read book jackets first; and I really respect author Margaret Atwood (Handmaid's Tale). The first of a trilogy, this 2003 story set in the seemingly near future is told by Jimmy, an average Brit guy and fairly mediocre high school student, whose distinguishing characteristic is that his mother abandoned the family when he was a young teen to become an anti-government activist. At school, Jimmy meets a brilliant new boy he nicknames Crake, after an extinct bird in an online game they play, and they spend all their time together. Crake’s friendship with Jimmy seems to be based more out of pity than admiration, and perhaps also because Jimmy's clearly no competition for him. During an online porn session, they see a photo of a young girl who captivates them. Later, as they begin their work lives, Crake finds (or manufactures) the same or a similar girl whom he names Oryx (an extinct ox). As Jimmy discovers what Crake and his co-workers have been creating in their labs, and the reader learns more about the strange non-human creatures Jimmy lives with as the novel opens, a disease causing almost immediate death ravages the world. ( )
  froxgirl | Apr 24, 2020 |
The world that Snowman, formerly Jimmy, inhabits is a desolate place. It has been devastated by a virus that the company he was working for, released. He considers his present situation and looks back at his life so far. He has some laboratory creatures, Crakers, who listen to everything he says, and treat him as a God.

The world before is saturated with the web, and Crake, a close friend and him spend a long time looking at the various sordid videos and images on there. One image is of a child of 8 or so, that is so captivating that he prints it and keeps it. Crake and Jimmy separate when they go to different universities, but they keep in touch. Crake is at a new Ivy league establishment and Jimmy is at a regular one. They both get jobs after, Jimmy at a small place with little or no prospects, and Crake at Paradice Project, a premier league company. He had a strong friendship with Crack and this pays off when Crake asks him to join his company doing the advertising. He jumps the social ladder, and when he is there meets Oryx, the girl from the video; lover of Crake and begins an affair with her. As he travels to where he worked, he begins to understand some of what went on at the company.

Atwood has always maintained that she is not a science fiction writer, but writes speculative fiction, and in this book she has conjured up a dystopian world that is harsh and brutal, familiar and alien at the same time. The narrative is evenly paced, and it is written such that each chapter unwrap another level of detail, until you reach the point at the beginning of the book again. It is very cleverly written, even though it is quite disturbing and sordid in parts. Almost gave this four stars; 3.5 would be a fair score. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 438 (next | show all)
Oryx and Crake is a piece of dystopian fiction written from the point of Snowman (known as Jimmy in his former life) – the last human left on Earth. At least, he believes he’s the last human left on Earth until the end of the book.

I found the parts of the book describing Snowman’s journey to Paradice (the dome in the compound where Crake did his work) to be a lot less interesting than his recollections of his previous life as Jimmy. I loved reading about how Jimmy and Crake met, the little signs that Crake gave off as to what he might be planning and the direction his thoughts might take in the future (though Jimmy didn’t recognize these until it was too late), etc.

Crake is really the star of the show in this book in my mind – Jimmy simply acts as a vessel for us to learn about a character who is dead and who therefore cannot teach us about himself.

Snowman’s adventures in real time seem almost pointless to me. Why not dedicate the whole book to Jimmy’s friendship with Crake, with just a bit of general explanation as to what’s going on now? I think the present would have been much more interesting if the Crakers were explored more than Jimmy’s struggle to survive and come to grips with what Crake had done.

On the whole, however, I thought it was a great book.
Set sometime in the future, this post-apocalyptic novel takes scientific research in the hands of madmen to its logical and frightening conclusion. Inspiring readers to pay more attention to the world around them, Atwood offers cautionary notes about the environment, bioengineering, the sacrifice of civil liberties, and the possible loss of those human values which make life more than just a physical experience. As the novel opens, some catastrophe has occurred, effectively wiping out human life. Only one lonely survivor and a handful of genetically altered humanoids remain, and they are slowly starving as they try to adjust to their changed circumstances.
added by stephmo | editMostly Fiction, Mary Whipple (May 28, 2004)
In Margaret Atwood's first attempt at writing a novel, the main character was an ant swept downriver on a raft. She abandoned that book after the opening scene and became caught up in other activities, which she has described as ''sissy stuff like knitting and dresses and stuffed bunnies.'' That certainly does not sound like Ms. Atwood, who is known for the boldness of her fiction. Of course she was only 7 at the time.
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Mel Gussow (Jun 24, 2003)
Margaret Atwood has always taken a jaundiced view of human nature. Back when her mordant observations about marriage and other relations between the sexes had her marked down as a feminist, she took pains to fire off several novels in a row featuring weak, manipulative, dishonest and outright bad women, partly to prove that her skepticism was distributed fairly. She has always been of the opinion that people are a mixed bag of the occasionally decent and the frequently mendacious and that there's not much anyone can do to change that fact.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Laura Miller (May 27, 2003)
Genetic tinkering. Rampant profiteering. A deadly virus that sweeps the globe. Are these last Tuesday's headlines or our future?

In Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake, the answer is both. For Atwood, our future is the catastrophic sum of our oversights. It's a depressing view, saved only by Atwood's biting, black humor and absorbing storytelling.
added by stephmo | editUSA Today, Jackie Pray (May 26, 2003)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chancer, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davids, TinkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, CampbellNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I could perhaps like others have astonished you
with strange improbable tales; but I rather chose to relate plain matters of fact in the simplest manner and style; because my principal design was to inform you, and not to amuse you.
- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower in the air?
- Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
For my family
First words
Snowman wakes before dawn.
If he wants to be an asshole, it's a free country. Millions before him have made the same life choice.
Crake had worked for years on the purring. Once he'd discovered that the cat family purred at the same frequency as the ultrasound used on bone fractures and skin lesions and were thus equipped with their own self-healing mechanism, he'd turned himself inside out in the attempt to install the feature.
So Crake never remembered his dreams. It's Snowman that remembers them instead. Worse than remembers: he's immersed in them, he's wading through them, he's stuck in them. Every moment he's lived in the past few months was dreamed first by Crake. No wonder Crake screamed so much.
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