Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
The main character of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bed sheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes—into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradise Project unfolded and the world came to grief.
With breathtaking command of her shocking material, and with her customary sharp wit and dark humor, Atwood projects us into an outlandish yet wholly believable realm populated by characters who will continue to inhabit our dreams long after the last chapter. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers.
Review: This is one of my favorite novels ever, and it’s the first book in one of my favorite trilogies ever. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it since it came out. I’ve been in a reading slump recently, so I picked it up again because I knew that I would enjoy it. I still love it as much as I did the first time I read it.
The story follows Snowman as he struggles through a post-apocalyptic world. His job is to protect a group of genetically engineered humans who are known as the Children of Crake. Through flashbacks, the story shows how Snowman unwittingly helped Crake—his best friend—create the plague that destroyed the world.
This book is amazing. Like all of Margaret Atwood’s novels, the writing is beautiful and the characters are complicated. Every time I read one of Atwood’s books, I’m in awe of her talent.
There are so many things that I like about this book. Crake is an unusual “bad guy.” He’s funny and charismatic and (somewhat) likeable, even though he does horrible things to people. I love his complexity. He definitely has some good qualities and some really, really bad ones. He’s my favorite character in the book.
Another element that I love is the role religion plays in the story. The Children of Crake are genetically engineered by Crake. When they start asking Snowman why they exist, he creates a religious mythology where Crake is a god-like figure. Crake destroys the world and creates a new one in its place. He’s a god to some people and a villain to others. I think that’s really interesting.
Even though the story deals with serious subjects, it’s surprisingly funny. The humor comes at unexpected moments and catches the reader off-guard. Some of the dialogue between Snowman and Crake is hilarious.
Like all of Atwood’s novels, this one is character-driven. There isn’t much of a plot. It’s all about the people, their lives, and their pasts. The lack of a fast-paced plot doesn’t bother me because the characters are interesting enough to make up for it.