Monday, 8 August 2011

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, 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 Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

With breathtaking command of her shocking material, and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, 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. 

What can I possibly say about Oryx and Crake that will successfully capture its brilliance
and charm? I will admit that the first thing that caught my attention about this novel was its cover, which I think is stunning, but the text itself quickly blew me out of the water! Atwood's style of writing is so powerful that I think any reader would have a difficult time not being moved by the intricate stories which she tells.  I have as yet only read two of Margaret Atwood's novels (the other one being The Handmaid's Tale) and several of her short stories, but she is quickly gaining ground as one of my favourite authors! 

Set in a dystopian world, Oryx and Crake follows the narration of a character by the name of
Snowman as he struggles to survive after a disease has wiped out the rest of the human population. His only companions are the children of Crake, genetically altered beings who were meant to become a race superior to mankind. Throughout the novel readers are sent back and forth through Snowman's memories as he reveals how this post apocalyptic world came into being. This narration was probably one of my favourite things about the entire novel. Snowman's words draw the reader into his world, simultaneously evoking both their disgust and their sympathies. 

The ending of this novel was also perfect, executed in a typical Atwood fashion that leaves you with a hundred questions and desperately wondering what happens next. While many people may find this lack of answers frustrating, I think it intensifies the overall novel by giving readers the chance to reflect on the plot and imagine for themselves what they think the outcome will be. Readers of Oryx and Crake will be happy to know, however, that this is only the first novel in a trilogy. While the next book, The Year of the Flood, will not give them the answers they seek about Snowman (at least from what the synopsis reveals), it will allow them to gain further explanations about what this post apocalyptic world has come to. 

Overall, Oryx and Crake is a brilliant work of fiction and has made the list of my all time favourite books! Lovers of dystopian novels will be absolutely charmed by Atwood's imagination and execution of the novel's plot. This review really doesn't do Oryx and Crake the justice it deserves, so I suppose the only real words of advice I can give is that this novel is fantastic and comes with one of my highest recommendations! 

Rating: 5 Stars


Jenny said...

Wow! This one sounds fascinating. I have The Handmaids Tale but I haven't read it yet, I really should get to it.

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