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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Margaret Atwood

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11,468330235 (3.96)2 / 981
Title:Oryx and Crake
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Anchor (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 376 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)

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    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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English (321)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (330)
Showing 1-5 of 321 (next | show all)
Minimalist review:
When I first started reading this I was bored and confused. Then it got exciting. Now I want to read the rest of the trilogy.

Most of the book is like Tom Hanks in Castaway, but instead of Wilson, Snowman has human-animal hybrids that speak in short sentences. Then there's: flashbacks of a fractured family, a charismatic sociopath friend, an obsession with a girl...
Nobody imagined the brilliant sociopath would reset humanity by killing everyone, including himself...

This is the first book by Margaret Atwood I've read and I enjoyed her insights that glimmered through the writing. Perceptive, cynical, and yet still hopeful, Oryx and Crake is a dystopian love story. It's a glance at the world through the rose colored glasses of Oryx, the super logical pragmatist Crake, and the narcissistic and self-pitying Jimmy.

( )
  jasmataz | Sep 11, 2015 |
It took me a little while to get into this book. Normally I'm happy not to have a lot of exposition at the beginning of a novel: when it's well-written, I can find the story pretty naturally. I don't know if this was slightly clunky, narratively-speaking, or if I was just slightly disturbed by the dystopic setting, or it was just tough to pick up on the threads of the story because of its dystopic nature, or possibly some of each. Also the narrative was skipping between a couple different timelines. Anyway, gradually I came to understand what was going on, and it ended up gripping me. Part of what I had trouble grasping was that there were two levels of dystopia that were being described: the early life of Snowman (or Jimmy), the main character, took place in a future world that is distinctly different from the one I know, but the "current," or later part of his life is exponentially worse. Early on, it becomes clear that the future world is one of extremely high technology, including all kinds of genetically modified creatures, a preponderance of unnatural foodstuffs, and a general separation of society along intellectual lines. I might have felt disturbed by this near-term dystopia, since it felt like it could really happen, and it would not be a nice world to live in. But somewhere in the middle there is some kind of cataclysm (which is not fully described until pretty late in the novel) involving a mass biological attack that seems to wipe out the human race almost entirely. Oddly, when I got to the part where that wipeout was described, I seemed to relax, because it felt like it was almost too horrible to be a plausible future (and end) for humanity as I know it. Maybe I'm an optimist, or at least not so much of a pessimist as Margaret Atwood seems to be (I think the first novel of hers I read was The Handmaid's Tale, which is also a pretty bleak vision of the future), but it was at this point where I sort of remembered that Oh yeah, this is FICTION. Possibly my highly stressed brain is projecting everything much too literally and scarring my poor little soul. Whatever the case, the novel ends somewhat abruptly and with an obvious "stay tuned for part two" type of cliffhanger. I knew going in that this was a trilogy, but that kind of annoyed me a bit. I think there are better ways to create an appetite for more than to simply leave the reader dangling into space. That being said, I do look forward to reading the next installment, although I have several things in the queue before I can get to that! ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
wow. terrifying. ( )
  annadanz | Jul 5, 2015 |
barely started and couldn't finish it. enough with the dystopia; already living it in this economic crisis ridden land. donated the book to a library. ( )
  amaraki | May 22, 2015 |
Blech. Melancholy as all of her work is. This follows the whiny Snowman, one of the last humans it seems that survived the apocalypse. He watches the "new humans" who were genetically engineered and survived. It flashes back to before the apocalypse, but he was a minor character in all that was created and so it's frustrating because we don't know what happened, because he was too selfish and self-indulgent to investigate it. ( )
  trinityM82 | Apr 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 321 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall 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)

(see all 6 descriptions)

With the same stunning blend of prophecy and social satire she brought to her classic The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood gives us a keenly prescient novel about the future of humanity-and its present. Humanity here equals Snowman, and in Snowman's recollections Atwood re-creates a time much like our own, when a boy named Jimmy loved an elusive, damaged girl called Oryx and a sardonic genius called Crake. But now Snowman is alone, and as we learn why we also learn about a world that could become ours one day.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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