Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

After finishing The Handmaid's Tale, I polled my Facebook friends for what to read next by Margaret Atwood.  I got 3 votes for The Robber Bride, 2 for Alias Grace, 2 for Cat's Eye and 2 for Oryx and Crake. After reading the descriptions and seeing what was instantly available for my Kindle via the library, I settled on Oryx and Crake.

Wow.  I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a while.  It's similar to The Handmaid's Tale because it portrays a dystopia that feels like it could quite easily happen in real life, which freaks you out as a reader, but there the similarities end. In the former, we glimpse a terrifying world where misogynist agenda gets taken too far. In Oryx and Crake, the world we enter highlights what can happen if humanity takes it upon itself to use our advanced science and technology to "play God."

The novel opens with Snowman, who is, as far as he knows, the last remaining member of the human race. He cares for the Children of Crake, a new humanoid species, but is ultimately alone in his humanness and his memory of what came before.  Snowman, who was once called Jimmy, shows us how the world got to this state through a series of flashbacks beginning in his childhood, when he met his best friend, Crake, who would change the world like never before. He also shares his first encounters with Oryx, the love of his life who also has a role to play.

There's not much else I can say without spoiling the novel for anyone, but suffice it to say that I couldn't put it down, which is actually kind of rare for me. The characters and the world they live in were both fascinating, and the ethical and philosophical implications are mind-blowing.  I could probably read it again and uncover things I missed the first time.

I was sad for the novel to end (another rarity) and was overjoyed to find that it is the first in a trilogy. I had had no idea, having heard so much about Oryx and Crake, but never about the second book, The Year of the Flood, or the fact that Margaret Atwood is working on a third.  Can't wait!

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