Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oryx and Crake

What if mankind as we know it was almost completely eliminated because of a virus that was created by humans? This is the theme Margaret Atwood explores in her Maddaddam Trilogy. Oryx and Crake is the first book in the series and it opens with a man named Snowman scavenging among what is obviously the leftovers of civilization. He may be the only human left alive and the world now abounds with genetically modified animals and subhumans. As Snowman explores what is left of mankind, we see his life unfold in a series of flashbacks as he recalls a time when his name was still Jimmy.

I confess that I actually picked up this book years ago when it was shortlisted for the Booker, and gave up after a few pages. I should have continued. It's a bit confusing at first and even disconcerting but the moment Crake, Jimmy's Machiavellian-like friend, was introduced in the narrative, I was hooked. Orxy then appears and then you are completely ensnared in this love triangle which is also a futuristic and ultimately catastrophic story. 

I don't want to give away more of the plot as it's best not to know too much if you plan to read it, but I honestly cannot gush about this book enough. Atwood is pure genius. I'm totally in awe of her. How come this woman hasn't won the Nobel Prize yet? Oryx and Crake is brilliantly constructed and written in excellent prose. It's a thought-provoking book and in fact, Atwood prefers the term speculative fiction rather than science fiction because through this novel she is actually contemplating about where our current world is headed based on the scientific trends such as genetic engineering. Atwood describes speculative fiction as "a slight twist on the society we have now." It's a very scary yet believable prospect and I do admit this book isn't for everyone because it's shocking and disturbing. However, I did enjoy it immensely and I'm so looking forward to part two of the trilogy that was just released this year, the Year of the Flood. Apparently you don't actually have to read the books in order.

It's amazing how much range Margaret Atwood has, because all her novels are different and unique. I  feel like rereading all her novels that I've read in the past. 2010 will definitely be the year I revisit and rediscover Atwood.


  1. Hello Mrs. B.

    Agreed, Margaret Atwood is pure genius and I love to listen to her on CBC Radio One.

    Your blog is informative and very helpful, and am looking forward to reading this and some of the other books you’ve reviewed.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. I will be mentioning more old books that I have about, in the coming days and months.

    Until next time, I wish you good health and heaps of joy.

  2. YEAH! I'm glad you liked it too. When the holidays are over I'm going to have to take The Year of the Flood out from the library. I've also heard that Margaret Atwood will be visiting a school near where I live later in the year-- I'm so excited to see her speak. I think I need to read some more of her books as the only ones I've read have been Handmaid's and Oryx&Crake.

    Did the end make you want to know MORE too?

    Hope you've had a good holiday :)

  3. I really hope I can find a copy of Oryx and Crake here in Manila soon

  4. I felt the same way when I read Oryx and Crake when it first came out. I was confused in the early pages, but then once I got into the rhythm of it, I was hooked. Now you have Year of the Flood to look forward to.

    I too am thinking of an Atwood re-read. I have read all of her fiction, but it may be time to revisit some old friends.

  5. I am a huge Atwood fan but I have stayed away from this year so far because I just didn't think the "sci-fi" element would be for me - but the way you have described it makes it sound great. I will have to give it a go.

  6. @Lynda - I didn't know Atwood had a radio show. I'll see if I can find it on the web.

    @She - Yes, I definitely did want to know more in the end so I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. How lucky for you to hear Atwood give a talk. You should definitely write about it on your blog.

    @mel - they have it at Fully Booked.

    @Thomas - I'm so excited to reread some of her books and finally read the ones I haven't read.

    @Karen - I was just like you so I avoided this book for the longest time but I'm so glad I read it.

  7. Oooh I have read The Year of the Flood and now I really want to read this one too. I agree with you wholeheartedly, I think Atwood is rather a genius.

  8. Like Karen, I tend to avoid the "sci-fi" Atwoods. Your review has me rethinking this.

  9. Nice review! I have been wanted to crack the spine on this one since receiving The Year of the Flood. And I'm glad you went back and gave Oryx and Crake another try! Atwood is a genius! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Hi, Mrs. B! I usually see hardback copies of Oryx and Crake at Booksale but haven't really given them much attention. After reading your review, I'll pick one up! The only Atwood that I've read was her Booker-winning work -- The Blind Assassin -- which I really enjoyed!

  11. I really enjoyed this book...nice review!

  12. I have this one on my shelf, so it's good to see someone gushing over it. :-)

  13. I really must pick up a copy of this book now. I've read three Atwoods, two of which are now on my all-time favorite books list. Thanks for the review and for not revealing too much. I find reading Atwood seems to work better that way.:)

  14. Are the books part of a trilogy?? I have herd mixed messages on that....

  15. I just posted on this book-I enjoyed it a lot for the alternative world it created and the beautiful prose-I linked to your post in mine


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