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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Margaret Atwood (Author)

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13,369419270 (3.96)2 / 1082
Title:Oryx and Crake
Authors:Margaret Atwood (Author)
Info:Anchor Books
Collections:Your library
Tags:Science Fiction, post-apocalyptic, future

Work details

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)

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English (407)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (418)
Showing 1-5 of 407 (next | show all)
Once upon a time humanity didn't need be afraid. The race was thriving. Then came the sickness, then came the compounds. Finally came JUVE. Now it's just Snowman, but he has the whole story. Maybe the children of Crake can take over the planet. Certainly humans never will again.

Oryx and Crake begins Jimmy's memories of the man who called himself Crake - an intellectual genius without much of a moral compass. All the compounds wanted him, to use his intelligence to make themselves money, even if the things that he was willing to do did not take such care for human life. Human are flawed, after all.

Oryx and Crake is scary. Scary, but good. The book is written in the same cadence as The Handmaid's Tale, so popular, but how many people have delved into Margaret Atwood's other work? She's the Queen of Dystopia. Atwood finds the heartbeat of human fear and plays upon it - loss of trust, loss of freedom, loss of future. This book is no exception. It starts slowly, but builds into a careful crescendo that hooks the reader in completely.

Jimmy is an unlikable protagonist in a strange, changed world. But the story he has to tell is incredible. This one requires a little patience, but is definitely worth reading. ( )
1 vote Morteana | Oct 29, 2018 |
Beautiful, sharp, insightful, and absolutely terrifying. Oryx and Crake takes global warming, genetic engineering and playing God to a too possible and horrifying conclusion. Atwood is the scariest writer out there - her people are too real, the madness is too close to home.

We do not know what we are playing with. We think we can control nature and ourselves, but all it takes is one mad genius to create the apocalypse... and a host of enablers blinded by greed.

The three characters -Snowman, Crake and Oryx - represent the spectrum of human intelligence and compassion. Crake, the genius, is analytical and discompassionate. He watches executions and porn for sport. Yet he wants to make humanity better, stamp out the roots of aggression, create an idyllic, happy race that can sustain itself in harmony with nature. Atwood brilliantly names the birth place of Crake's children Paradice. Crake is playing God, in a garden, creating innocent children who know nothing about deceit and violence. He is throwing the dice that they will not seek the knowledge he forbade them to know, and will populate the Earth. Only the world is already populated...

Oryx is the one who accepts the world the way it is, who loves it, despite terrible things that happened to her since she was a child. Jimmy is between them - he has compassion but also self-absorbed like Crake - Crake picks him to save his children because he is the bridge between the sterile compound and real life.

We slowly learn the story of the plague that destroyed humanity from Snowman's flashbacks. Yet we realize that the world was already on its way to a catastrophe before. Heat, floods, extreme weather, destruction of land near the sea lead to food shortages, poor people selling their children into sex slavery, the creation of safe compounds for the smart genetic engineers, isolated from the pleebland. They are trying to solve many problems by creating new species of plants and animals, randomly messing with nature and causing imbalances... sound familiar?

The ending is not an ending and it is genius... who will survive? Will Crake's children be what he intended them? Things to think about. A lot. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
Wow, this book was really good, and really depressing. I am glad I do not have children. This future is bleak, and most of it is all too likely.
I would go nuts living with the Crakers. They are so boring! They can't even tell jokes. I couldn't last as long as Snowman did. ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
Took me a while to get into this book. It starts with Snowman out in the wild with people who seem kind of strange. He is living in a post apocalyptic world with animal hybrids and climate changed environment. Snowman explains what the world was like before, how the strange people, Crakers, came to be and how his friendship and relationship with Crake and Oryx led to this new world. It starts off confusing but as I read on things started making sense. Little things in the beginning of the book make sense later on. It's a really unique book and I loooved the way it unfolds. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
Humans play God and we all get our just desserts. This is a fairly conventional post-apocalyptic story told very well. Great world building, and does a brilliant job of maintaining the tension and the mystery of how the world got into this state. The dystopian world shown mostly through flashbacks feels a little too possible for my comfort, and the deeply flawed protagonists have enough depth that they are at times sympathetic.
  felius | Sep 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 407 (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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385721676, Paperback)

In Oryx and Crake, a science fiction novel that is more Swift than Heinlein, more cautionary tale than "fictional science" (no flying cars here), Margaret Atwood depicts a near-future world that turns from the merely horrible to the horrific, from a fool's paradise to a bio-wasteland. Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy) sleeps in a tree and just might be the only human left on our devastated planet. He is not entirely alone, however, as he considers himself the shepherd of a group of experimental, human-like creatures called the Children of Crake. As he scavenges and tends to his insect bites, Snowman recalls in flashbacks how the world fell apart.

While the story begins with a rather ponderous set-up of what has become a clichéd landscape of the human endgame, littered with smashed computers and abandoned buildings, it takes on life when Snowman recalls his boyhood meeting with his best friend Crake: "Crake had a thing about him even then.... He generated awe ... in his dark laconic clothing." A dangerous genius, Crake is the book's most intriguing character. 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. Eventually Crake's experiments in bioengineering cause humanity's shockingly quick demise (with uncanny echoes of SARS, ebola, and mad cow disease), leaving Snowman to try to pick up the pieces. There are a few speed bumps along the way, including some clunky dialogue and heavy-handed symbols such as Snowman's broken watch, but once the bleak narrative gets moving, as Snowman sets out in search of the laboratory that seeded the world's destruction, it clips along at a good pace, with a healthy dose of wry humor. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:58 -0400)

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"Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey--with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake--through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining."--Back cover.… (more)

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