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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Margaret Atwood (Author)

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12,700402187 (3.96)2 / 1055
Title:Oryx and Crake
Authors:Margaret Atwood (Author)
Info:Anchor (2004), Edition: Reprint, 389 pages
Collections:Your library

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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Author) (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
This was, in fact, my first go at reading Margaret Atwood. I’m not entirely sure why I chose this one to read first, I think I saw a glowing review for it’s sequel on tumblr and decide that, well, I might as well start here. And, yes that was a pretty good decision as this book floored me.
Like, I’m not even sure how to review it.
Like, I’m not even entirely sure what happened.
But it was amazing.
It was also incredibly unsettling. The book dumps you in the beginning in a bleak landscape and the character of Snowman. The only human left, Snowman is basically alone except for the Children of Crake - who are portrayed as eery almost animalistic people. Through a series of flash back like chapters, the picture is painted of a world in which progress has, well, progressed as it would and the rich and the well off live in the Compounds and the poor and the masses live in the cities - the pleeblands as it were. Jimmy - known as Snowman in the ‘present’ - is a child living in the Compounds, whose father works for a company working on, well, extravagant processes involving pigs with human organs and other things too technical for me to sum up in an understandable manner. Jimmy grows up in this controlled and clean environment but there’s always something off.
In the present narrative, there’s always something about two people that he knew - Oryx and Crake - and through a long process of weaving in backstory with the current events, we are given the story of how the world became the desolate nightmare, and how Jimmy survived when basically no one else did and who the Children of the Crake are.
The book is unsettling because it’s dangerously close to the world as it is. Like, it’s a legitimate path that the world could take. Of course, that is the nature of science fiction, and this is definitely that. This world is so bleak, though, the characters live these lives that feel so meaningless. Jimmy and Crake live essentially the best lives that the world can offer and yet their lives are sad and meaningless. Oryx lives the traumatising life of a child sold into sex trafficking and yet she remains totally detached from the world - probably as a result of it. In reality, I never cared much for Jimmy, he was just the vessel that the story was told through.
In reality, Crake was my favourite character. Jimmy’s best friend growing up and a complete genius. He was also pretty much crazy. I mean, maybe he was the main character, it’s definitely something that could be speculated with in this kind of book. Because, Jimmy wasn’t a character anyone would really love. He didn’t have any real good qualities to him that you would grow attached to. He was a narrative vessel, but a pretty damn good one. Crake was an enigmatic character and you always knew that he was important, not just because the present narrative was always hinting at his importance as the past narrative caught up. He was just so interesting because his ideas were so ingenious and yet terrible and led to so many terrible things.
Oryx was the same kind of character as Crake. Her story unfolded as the past narrative caught up. And she basically remained a mystery throughout the entire story. You got what Jimmy thought her life story was - born in some far off country and sold into the sex industry - eventually her story intertwines with Jimmy’s but in a way that … almost is too implausible to be true. And yet there it is. I’ve never seen it done before in which the character’s backstory and story are laid out right in front of the reader, and yet she still remains a complete and total mystery.
I just, this is one of those books that you have to experience for yourself, I guess. Because the plot is too complex for me to explain and feel like I did it justice. It just needs to be read. I mean, in no way is it an uplifting story. No, actually it was incredibly disturbing and completely unsettling. But, it was also amazing. The way the narrative weaves itself together was basically brilliant.
I have a bunch of Margaret Atwood’s books lined up to read this summer, and this was definitely a good place to start. ( )
3 vote eaduncan | Sep 14, 2017 |
I LOVED Oryx & Crake! The way it was set up had me longing to get to the next page/next chapter/the end. It was gripping, thrilling, taught, and very sarcastic about the world we live in. It also really makes you think. Overall, I think a book that EVERYONE should read, no matter where your tastes lie. ( )
  writertomg | Sep 6, 2017 |
I love post-Apocalyptic stories and I've enjoyed other Atwood books, so I'm not sure why it's taken me quite so long to get around to reading this series.

On the face of it, not a lot happens in this book: man goes for a walk and comes back again. But Jimmy/Snowman becomes so real to the reader through his memories and the situation he is facing, that the novel becomes addictive. Loved it. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
Snowman lives up a tree after an ecological catastrophe, haunted by his memories of his mother and of Oryx and Crake and acting as a sort of prophet for the not-quite-human Children of Crake.

Compellingly believable dystopia showing where certain technologies and social trends might be leading us. I first read it when it came out in 2003 and am rather perturbed how my reaction to some aspects which I then found shocking has become a blasé shrug.

Having said that, I do think it would have been better to have the plague an accident rather than being deliberately set off by Crake as a mad scientist figure. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Aug 4, 2017 |
This was an engaging and immersive story. I had trouble putting it down. I was at a convention the weekend I read it and I kept sneaking in reading time between panels because I wanted to know what happened next. ( )
  ktlavender | Jul 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 390 (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, MargaretAuthorprimary 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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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. "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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