Book Review: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

I have a relatively long commute everyday so I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to books of CD while driving to work. We moved into a new town not too long ago, meaning a new library to peruse, and I was excited to rediscover Margaret Atwood in the CD section. I had read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school and was both appalled and intrigued by Atwood’s gritty writing style. I decided to give this piece of hers a try.

Here’s the excerpt from the back of the book:

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

Holy cow… Vicious, but I loved it!

This book was totally not what I expected after reading the excerpt on the back. Margaret Atwood weaves a story that leaves you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter to the last page. The story is dark, following the life of the main character as he struggles to survive, believing himself to be one of the last surviving humans in a lonely post-apocalyptic world. Atwood uses flashbacks to paint a vivid picture of a society brought down by corporate greed, hyper-sexuality, and mind-numbing violence. The reader is drawn through memories from the past, bit by bit, to finally put together the entire story and learn how Man was really brought to the edge of extinction.

Oryx and Crake blends science and colorful description to create an impressive tale of tragedy, romance, friendship, and thrills. The character interaction is refreshingly different and the settings are wonderfully intricate and dynamic. I especially appreciated that most of the technology used in the novel is based on existing science, making the book feel both real and unnervingly possible.

As a warning, this book would be inappropriate for sensitive readers due to foul language, mention of pornographic images, and gruesome violence. It was quite intense and disturbing at times. Despite, this I would recommend it for anyone looking for a real, intellectual, and gritty read. Atwood’s cynical description of a not-too-distant future is way too close for comfort.

I give the book five out of five stars. I loved it and went on to listen to the next two books in the trilogy. Those reviews coming soon!

 

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