After reading the first few chapters the reader is left in no doubt that the setting described is a dystopian future where things have gone terribly wrong. A character who refers to himself as Snowman seems to be the only human inhabitant. That is except for the children with the glowing eyes and the multi-coloured skin tones, who seem to consider him, a kind of spiritual figure, wise with knowledge. We are then introduced to animals which seem to be either genetically enhanced or a genetic mix of species. Whatever the case may be, Snowman seems to be having trouble with staying alive. The past, is slowly revealed as Snowman, reminisces while searching for food and trying to survive. We find out his name is Jimmy, and he seems be experiencing auditory hallucinations from somebody called Oryx. At this point the novel splits into two narratives, the present and the past. The past narrative introduces us to Oryx and Crake and how the world has ended up in such a mess (or has it?). Growing up, Crake was Jimmy’s best friend and a genius to boot. You see it was Crake’s plan that has turned the world into the chaotic state it’s in now, but things did not quite go as expected, it was supposed to be utopia not dystopia. Atwood teases out the details to how the disaster that has befallen the planet came about, while Jimmy struggles to survive against the genetically enhanced pigs called pigoons.
Atwood seems to be having a go at modern science, particularly, gene mixing, manipulating, and splicing, giant pharmaceutical companies and profits, at one stage Crake reveals to Jimmy that his corporation is engineering diseases simply for financial gain. They have the science to wipe out these diseases but if they do there goes their cash cow. She seems to be warning us that this dystopian future is a very real possibility, and I don’t doubt it. I can still see the human ear growing on the body of a mouse and the cloning of dolly the sheep.
Oryx is the third character, a sex slave rescued from slavery by Crake, that both men love. Crake and Jimmy noticed her on a porn web site when they were teenagers and she has haunted Jimmy for most of his life. When Crake asks Jimmy to come and work for him, he is quite simply stunned that there is Oryx, in the flesh, right in front of him.
This is the second time I have read this novel and it is just as good the second time round. I still get the feeling that Atwood had a ball writing this book, coming up with all the genetically mixed animals and really writing with no constraint as to what we, as a race could get up to if not controlled morally and physically by a governing body and laws. It’s a very grey area in a possible future that we should tread with caution. I can’t wait to read the next book. 4.5 Stars.
Biography from goodreads.
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth in the Massey series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
Associations: Margaret Atwood was President of the Writers' Union of Canada from May 1981 to May 1982, and was President of International P.E.N., Canadian Centre (English Speaking) from 1984-1986. She and Graeme Gibson are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Society within BirdLife International. Ms. Atwood is also a current Vice-President of PEN International.
I love Atwood, I think she is one of the most gifted writers of this and the last century. Many critics have criticised her prose and she does have a very utilitarian style. She doesn't colour up her prose but she does have a very distinct style which works very well. I think she writes with humour, sometimes dark, sometimes subtle. I have enjoyed everything she has written so far.
There is a great video of her, displaying her great sense of humour and a short reading of Oryx and Crake. - https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=interview+with+margaret+atwood+oryx+and+crake&view=detail&mid=C3C113615DE33440AA04C3C113615DE33440AA04&FORM=VIRE