Monday, October 20, 2008
monday book review: oryx and crake, by margaret atwood
Oryx and Crake is the story of a dystopic future that feels alarmingly similar to our real-world present - a time when global warming is a worrisome reality, when genetic experimentation is a issue of much debate, and when scientific advancements often reach further than our ability to fully comprehend their future effects. Taking her inspiration from these current concerns, Atwood focuses her eleventh novel around this central question: What will happen to humanity if our scientific advancements are allowed to proceed unchecked? And her answer - while gripping - ain't pretty.

Oryx and Crake begins shortly after the apocalypse, and shifts back and forth between present and past to reveal how things fell apart. The story opens on Jimmy, a man who believes himself to be the last surviving member of the human race. Starving, alone and dangerously exposed to the elements, Jimmy spends most of his time foraging for remnants of food, alcohol, and protection from the garish sun. The remainder of his time he spends looking over The Crakers - a new race of man, created by science to be perfectly adapted to the harsh environmental conditions and humanity's only hope. Jimmy has been hiding out on the outskirts of the Crakers' community, waiting for the terror that has been released upon humanity to run its course, but the fear of starvation ultimately forces Jimmy to leave the Crakers - for whom he has become something of a god - and return to what remains of the world he left behind. His journey back sparks the memories that reveal how the present came to be, unfurling a story that's King's The Stand meets Huxley's Brave New World.

As a fervent fan of both Margaret Atwood and dystopic literature, it goes without saying that Oryx and Crake was right up my alley. Atwood never fails to impress me with her imagination, skill, and thoughtful critique, and this novel had all of those things in spades. Oryx and Crake is a troublesome warning for our present, a reminder that just because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean that we should, and an example of Atwood at her finest. I highly recommend you give it a gander.

Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood
2003, 376 pages

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I'm glad you liked this one, because I love love loved it too! Dystopias are (oddly enough) awesome!

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