Book Review: Oryx and Crake

oryx and crake

I’m starting to buy into all this Margaret Atwood hype. I hate her almost as much as John Updike…almost (keep in mind that I reserve my deepest of hatred for writers who I greatly admire and despise for their God-given writing ability).

I read The Handmaid’s Tale last year during my dystopian run and I’ve found that that it’s one of those rare books that has stayed with me long after it’s been placed back on the bookshelf. It was a dark exploration of humanity at its worst written in beautiful prose and containing some of the best metaphors I’ve ever read.

Oryx and Crake was even better.

Granted, the story is much more my cup of tea. It follows the life of the protagonist, Jimmy (a.k.a. Snowman), as he progresses from his early life living in the near future inside a corporate compound that specializes in genetic engineering animal hybrids (raccoon/skunk hybrids, pigs bred with human brain tissue and organs) to living as a prophet for a group of genetically-engineered humans who represent the last of humanity. It’s the classic “corporations play God and end up causing the apocalypse” storyline that has been done hundreds of times before…but it’s the way Atwood tells the story that sets it apart.

The writing is exquisite. The language is playful, humorous, painful, and eloquent. And this lady writes teenage boys better than anyone I’ve ever read…which is somewhat disturbing. I don’t think I could write a teenage boy as well, and I was one!

Literary novels are about the language. Not a lot happens for a novel about the end of the world. The characters are interesting and the commentary on humanity poignant, but the plot lacks any real sense of forward movement until the last few chapters and the ending certainly leaves things open for, say, two more books. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I’ll obviously be checking out the rest of the series in the near future.

Damn you, Atwood!

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~ by themoderntranscendentalist on January 16, 2014.

2 Responses to “Book Review: Oryx and Crake”

  1. Better than A Handmaid’s Tale? I’m going to try to forget you wrote that, only because I don’t want to have high expectations of a book before I read it. I like to have low expectations. I’m going to pretend you said this book was… “okay.”

  2. I’m more into “corporations destroy the world” dystopian books so it’s just a personal preference. Both Handmaid’s and Oryx are excellent books. I need some more time removed from Oryx before I can call a clear winner.

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