Review: Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

oryx-and-crakeThis book was a weird one for me. I really enjoyed it but I found it a real hard going read. A lot of people who I trust for reviews and good book recommendations said that this was a really quick read, and maybe I’m just really ‘zoned out’ right now due to one thing and another, but I just really didn’t find that.

It’s of the speculative fiction genre; it’s a book that explores what could happen in the future. It is somewhat SciFi/Dystopia but it really isn’t. It’s very extreme but I think that’s the point. What I think scares me most isn’t the eugenics and gene splicing etc but the simple fact that gated communities actually exist. To me, there is nothing less desirable than having to live in this ‘perfect word’ as Atwood described them. I know that the person I am is down to how and where I grew up, going to a school in a ‘deprived’ area and growing up relatively unsheltered. These things really shaped the adult I’ve become and knowing that gated communities are out there, however far from the construct Atwood created, is a scary thought. Science – genetics – has it’s place in the world, there are so many wonderful things that can be accomplished by science but the thought of isolation is terrifying!

Ultimately, I am very mixed about this book. Some parts of it were just mindblowing, others were just meh. I feel in a minority because it seems everyone I know who has read this book just loves it. I wasn’t all that invested in Snowman at the beginning, Jimmy I was however interested in. I was tempted in parts to skip over Snowman and head straight back to Jimmy because it was just more tangible and relatable even though it was a little extreme. And while I did enjoy it, I didn’t enjoy it in the way I usually enjoy a book. It definitely made me think.

The characters in this were a little lacking in parts for me. I think that was intentional, truthfully, you’re supposed to be left hanging really. Oryx especially was vague, I wondered in parts if she was real or just simply a figment of Jimmy/Snowman’s imagination. She seemed ethereal, surreal, sometimes she was fleshed out and other times she was just ghost like. She was the only real connection to the ‘outside’ world, however harrowing her past actually was. She just seemed to be the female influence whenever Jimmy/Snowman needed one, she was exactly the woman he needed at each pivotal point. Crake was just power crazed, wanting to save the world but ending up as the hands of destruction. And Jimmy, as for our main protagonist, I found him pretty dull as Snowman, but found the story as Jimmy quite engaging. If the story was narrated in a less disjointed manner, I think I would have preferred it – but the whole point of it is to be disjointed and a bit higgledy-piggledy.

I preferred The Handmaid’s Tale in terms of writing. There are a significant number of parallels to it, they were on the whole very similar but I think the faint glimmer of hope at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale just elevated it marginally in my estimations. I’m quite interested to read the other two books in the series just because it was a really deep, compelling ‘world’ to read about. Ultimately I’d give this 4/5 stars, I think though this may change with time. I have a feeling it’ll be one of those books that stays quite firmly in my mind for a long time.

One thought on “Review: Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

  1. The Brain in the Jar says:

    My first Atwood, and the one that made me a fun. I loved the minimalist approach to the genre. Sci-Fi became big, with a lot of concepts and descriptions on how every little thing works.

    Atwood cared less about that, and more about what it all means. The sequel is also good. It’s much bigger and less minimalistic, but has better characters. Of all the Atwood I’ve read, Cat’s Eye is the best.

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