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Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1)

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3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  149,726 Ratings  ·  9,422 Reviews
"In the beginning, there was chaos..." Margaret Atwood's chilling new novel Oryx and Crake moves beyond the futuristic fantasy of her 1985 bestseller The Handmaid's Tale to an even more dystopian world, a world where language--and with it anything beyond the merest semblance of humanity--has almost entirely vanished.

Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor

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Hardcover, 378 pages
Published May 5th 2003 by Bloomsbury (first published 2003)
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Karen Niedzwiecki I was so lucky, I read 'Oryx and Crake' (and gave my heart to it!) before I read 'A Handmaid's Tale', and to be honest and a bit controversial, I…moreI was so lucky, I read 'Oryx and Crake' (and gave my heart to it!) before I read 'A Handmaid's Tale', and to be honest and a bit controversial, I didn't like Handmaid's Tale at all. For me it seemed to have an outdated and - dare I say it - juvenile agenda. I am really tired of 'man-bashing' as a way of passing the time, and I wholeheartedly endorse equality for all humans in general, so I suppose I have an anti-man-bashing agenda of my own! But for me 'Oryx and Crake' was supremely smart, heartfelt and beautiful, and rose above the usual small concerns to the Really Big Stuff. So human and so lovely! If you like science fiction, for me (and many others I have spoken to) it is the best proper Sci Fi book written in the past 20 years.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Michael
So, you go to Wal-Mart to buy your groceries because it's so damn cheap, but then you realize Wal-Mart is hiring very few full-time employees and not offering reasonable health care to its employees and it's walking employees through the process of how to get Medicare, not to mention they're closing down small businesses by exploiting foreign economies to get the lowest possible fucking cost; so, Wal-Mart's making YOU pay medical benefits for ITS employees, and replacing good jobs with shitty on ...more
Tatiana
Dec 04, 2013 Tatiana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Tatiana by: Gypsy Ryan, Misty
I wonder if all Margaret Atwoods books are like this one? Having read "Oryx and Crake" and "The Handmaid's Tale," I am curious now how many other ways of horrifying me she has up her sleeve.

"Oryx and Crake" is a dystopian (or as Atwood calls it herself, a speculative fiction) novel set in a future where genetic engineering rules the world. The story is told from the POV of Snowman, a seemingly last Homo sapiens sapiens on Earth. He is surrounded by the new breed of humans - passive, docile Chil
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Lindsay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
karen
eh.

bore-x and crake. this is a very all right book. i was just unwowed by it. initially, i liked the pacing of the book, and the way the story was spooling out between the present and past, doling its secrets out in dribs and drabs. but the characters just seemed so flimsy, and i was ultimately left with more questions than explanations. and the cutesy futuristic products and consumer culture bits are best left in the hands of a george saunders, not the queen of the long pen. however - and this
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Rebecca
Feb 16, 2009 Rebecca rated it did not like it
Recommended to Rebecca by: Stephanie
I am calling complete, and total, bullshit.

There are so many things wrong with this book that it's hard to know where to begin. For starters, the idea of having a couple of different timelines going at once, and shift tenses according--present tense for the present, regular past tenses for the past--causes some serious grammatical problems, and is an utter BS plot device. I'm not a huge fan of telling a story through flashbacks, but it can be done reasonably while retaining proper grammar. It's
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Apr 12, 2015 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maple-flavoured
I'm coming back to the authors who marked my literary 'coming of age': Vonnegut, Atwood. These two, for me, are the grand-daddy and grand-mammy of my bookish adolescence. They were life rafts held out by a couple of high school teachers. I grabbed them and held on. I simply cannot review either properly, so wrapped in nostalgia is my own point of view; so personal my reaction. I'm reading them now to see how they hold up and what they have to say to me 30 years later; and in Atwood's case, to pi ...more
Kemper
Geez. That was the most depressing apocalypse ever.

A guy called Snowman is playing caretaker and prophet to a strange new race of people he calls the Crakers in the ruins of civilization. As Snowman forages for supplies, his recollections make up the story of what caused a massive biological and ecological disaster that has apparently wiped all the old humans out except for him.

Snowman’s past takes place in our near future where he was once known as Jimmy in a society where genetic engineering w
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Will Byrnes
I had read Year of the Flood not realizing that it was a sequel to Oryx and Crake. Thus a desire to see what else was in store in this post-apocalyptic vision. Atwood portrays a world in which short-sightedness causes a major, global collapse in civilization. We travel with a few characters through the transition from bad to unimaginable and see what might happen if we continue along some of the paths we now trod. Genetic engineering is at the core here, and along with it flows a a consideration ...more
Manny
Sep 24, 2014 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like dystopias
Recommended to Manny by: Jordan
Snowman has spent a terrible night, full of confused, whiskey-sodden dreams, and when the Children of Crake call to him from the bottom of his tree he is still mostly asleep.

"You don't exist!" he shouts. "You're not even characters in a Margaret Atwood novel! You're just part of a review. And Manny won't write it until Jordan's finished the book as well."

None of this makes sense to Snowman, and it makes even less sense to the Children of Crake.

"What is a novel?" asks Eleanor Roosevelt.

"And who
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Emily May
Sometimes I'm torn between wishing I could get a glimpse inside Atwood's mind and thinking that might be absolutely terrifying.
Brian
Aug 23, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wanted to give myself three months to reflect on this book before writing anything about it. I have a tendency, upon finishing a novel that I really, really love, to annoy the shit out of friends and loved ones by first trying to impress upon them the need to read this book now, NOW - and failing that, to wax hyperbolic and ecstatic over its charms. To them I am the litboy who cried wolf.

And yes, it has only been two months, not three, but I've read the other two books in the MaddAddam series
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Glenn Sumi
May 19, 2016 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Talk about timing.

Just as the weather goes nuts – sunscreen and shorts one day, parkas the next – and mysterious diseases warrant masks, along comes Margaret Atwood's Oryx And Crake, a novel that explains these and other global warning signs.

This is Atwood's second successful work of speculative fiction. But where The Handmaid's Tale focused on gender and reproduction in a totalitarian regime, Oryx And Crake examines genetic splicing and disease.

We begin in a post-apocalyptic world, barren and s
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Fabian
Sep 22, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What a fantastic dystopia! Our post-apocalyptic fate will surely be a wonder to behold: Atwood BUILDS UP when any other 'sensible' writer writing today about the doomed future would simply TEAR DOWN. In this compulsively-readable novel, the fabulous formula borrows some ingredients from such classic books as "The Island of Dr. Moreau", "Jurassic Park"; "The Road" and "Never Let Me Go" were probably inspired by it. It's undoubtedly SUPERIOR to all of those books (save the fourth) and in bringing ...more
Aloha
I started this book knowing that this is a post-apocalyptic novel. I knew that Snowman had survived some sort of mass destruction of mankind because of an experiment gone awry and is fighting for survival. The story started with Snowman sleeping in a tree, waking up in a survival mode, with the last of his provisions. He then observes the children at a distance, obviously not surprised or afraid of them. They knew him as they approached him and chanted his name, “Snowman, oh Snowman.” Who are th ...more
Rowena
Mar 24, 2013 Rowena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb says Oryx and Crake is a love story. I must be missing something!There's nothing really romantic about this story, it's a novel that questions society's ethics and morals. Dystopian novels always make me feel a bit paranoid, this one more so because we actually have the technologies Atwood described in the book, and genetic experimentation is always a hotly-debated topic. How far are we willing to go, and what will the repercussions be?

This book was very entertaining, and a quick read.
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Stuart
A scathing condemnation of the world we are creating
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Oryx and Crake hit me a lot harder than I expected. It’s Margaret Atwood, so you can expect the deft characterizations, innovative narrative structure, effortless writing, and social criticism. What I wasn’t prepared for was the powerful emotional impact it had, and the thoughts it generated. In essence, Atwood asks a simple question: “What type of world are we creating, and does it deserve to exist? Moreo
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Cecily
Futuristic, bad new world in the wake of an unspecified environmental/ genetic engineering disaster, told from the viewpoint of a nostalgic but detached survivor. It is as much about personal relationships, sexual exploitation, sexual freedom, religion, creation and original sin as it is cyber-punk sci-fi. The central, though unoriginal, irony is that this dystopia was created from a failed Utopian plan.

Trilogy

O&C is parallel with the equally excellent "The Year of the Flood" (reviewed here
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Nikoleta
Apr 04, 2016 Nikoleta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dystopia
Όταν το ξεκίνησα δεν περίμενα ότι θα μου αρέσει τόσο πολύ. Το Όρυξ και Κρέικ είναι ένα βιβλίο για απαιτητικούς αναγνώστες. Η Atwood μιλάει για την επιστήμη, την τεχνολογία και για την ανθρώπινη φύση προσθέτοντας αυτές τις φιλοσοφικές αναζητήσεις σε ένα μεταποκαλυπτικό περιβάλλον! Η δράση είναι υπερβολικά αργή, αλλά κρατάει 100% τον αναγνώστη στις σελίδες του βιβλίου, προσφέροντας του την εκπληκτική αφήγηση της και τις εκλεπτυσμένες γνώσεις της με μια μαγευτική γλώσσα. Η αγωνία δεν λείπει καθώς τ ...more
·Karen·
Apr 21, 2016 ·Karen· rated it liked it
Recommends it for: The school authorities
Shelves: canada
One of the topics that school students doing English up to final exam level have to cover here is "Global Challenges and Visions of the Future: Progress and Ethics in Modern Society: ethical issues of scientific and technological progress, utopia and dystopia" - that was lifted from the guidelines for Northrhine-Westfalia, so there you go. Because I tend to regularly moan no, let's be honest, go off on a rant about having to plough through Brave New World or 1984 yet again with extra tuition stu ...more
Annalisa
May 12, 2010 Annalisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Margaret Atwood fans
Recommended to Annalisa by: Tatiana
I'm struggling to pin a rating on this book. Atwood, as always, is a beautiful writer. The first fifty or so pages I drank up her language, her description and setting. But I have to confess that I didn't like the book. Part of that could be as a parent (of an 8-year-old girl no less) there were parts of Oryx's history that I struggled to read. Child pornography (and abuse) is about the only thing that makes we want to get violent and start castrating guys. After reading that section, I struggle ...more
Cori
Aug 07, 2007 Cori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who don't mind feeling uneasy.
From my blog:

This book was creep-tastically good. Seriously. Reading it disqueted my soul in a way that made me lose my appetite and really hope that this is fiction and not prophecy.

Atwood has a knack for writing dystopian novels that are set in the near-enough future to be completely relevant. She basically takes things that we have today, and stretches them into a terrifying future (as she did in the Handmaid's Tale, one of my all-time favorite books). In Oryx and Crake, genetic engineering,
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Ratiocination
Dec 28, 2007 Ratiocination rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A mainstream author writing science fiction badly. Basically, tries to have it both ways: referencing real-world, present-day biotechnology without bothering to be accurate about it. I didn't enjoy reading it, and I don't like the implication-- that writing SF just involves throwing terminology around. One wouldn't have much patience for a legal thriller that ignored basic courtroom procedure; one wouldn't have much patience for a medical drama that got human anatomy wrong. I don't have much pat ...more
Jason
Jan 04, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 Stars

Oryx and Crake really needed a second read through for me to appreciate the quality of this story. Atwood has created a well thought out, well written, and a detailed post apocalyptic novel that others will be measured against. The style of this book along with the writing is what sets it apart. This is not a heavy action novel, nor is the world very different from countless other fictional ones. The characters are very identifiable but not really remarkable. The cause of the worlds end i
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Apatt
Mar 18, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Dear Ms. Atwood,

In the unlikely event that you are reading this I want you to know that all is forgiven.


"Whatchutalkinbout?" I hear you say, or perhaps I don't because it is fairly common knowledge that Margaret Atwood does not consider her sf books "science fiction", "speculative fiction" she allows but "science fiction" is a definite no-no because (according to her) it is full of talking squid-like aliens thingies (If this is news to you, you may want to look up her Wikipedia entry and other s
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Amanda
Sep 14, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Speculative Fiction/Dystopian Fans
Shelves: blog
I've read a few of Margaret Atwood's poems and short stories, but this is my first official Atwood novel (I now imagine a collective gasp from all the hardcore The Handmaid's Tale fans . . . not to worry, that's on my reading list as I've already procured a copy). I've always heard people rave about how wonderful Atwood is and I can now say that I finally know what all the fuss is about.

A dystopian novel, Oryx and Crake is set in a not-so-distant apocalyptic future in which mankind has been era
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Greg
Dec 28, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Greg by: Aerin
I've read a lot of dystopian future books, and this was by far the most unsettling of the bunch. I think one of the reasons I enjoy reading these types of novels is the plausibility that surrounds the settings they take place in, and Oryx and Crake struck me as far more plausible than any of the others I've read. Partly because it doesn't take place all that far in the future, and partly because most of technology that the story depends on already exists, or is right around the corner. I think m ...more
Aubrey
Spoilers, maybe. I don't know, it's hard to tell with this one.

A while back I was enamored with this show called Sherlock that, for all I know, is still airing strong on the BBC network. This was during my Bioengineering days, the pinnacle of my proneness to eugenics flavored gobbledygook of the "high functioning sociopath" sort and all that sterile nonsense, so I can't give my younger self too much crap for being trained to confuse ethics with money and humanity with science. These days, howeve
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Madeline
Dec 15, 2009 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Nobody can write dystopia like Atwood. Depending on your preference, that's either a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it's a very good thing.

If we think of The Handmaid's Tale as a religious dystopia, then this book is a scientific dystopia. I'm afraid to describe the plot in too much detail, because I'm afraid to give anything away, but here's the basic outline - the story is narrated by a man who calls himself Snowman. He appears to be the only human survivor of a huge disaster, although th
...more
David Sven
Feb 24, 2013 David Sven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Clever, thought provoking writing that raises the question of what it means to be human. Through the eyes of the main protagonist, Jimmy, AKA “Snowman,” we are introduced to a post apocalyptic future where humanity has been wiped out, except for “Snowman” and the “Children of Crake,” ie re-engineered humans – if they can be called human. Who Crake is and who Snowman is, and what happened to the world is left to the reader to piece together as we go back into Jimmy’s past to a world before the fa ...more
Hanne
I first read this book back in 2006 when post-apocalyptic books weren't all the rage yet. To me, this book was jawdropping, I hadn't read anything even remotely like it and it quickly earned a spot on my favourites shelf.
Now, six years and many post-apocalyptic books later, I revisited it, and it still hasn't lost its brilliance in many ways.

This is not a fast paced book, there is plenty of internalizing and describing. It brings up a lot of ethical issues about where science is heading. Where
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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, childr
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More about Margaret Atwood...

Other Books in the Series

MaddAddam (3 books)
  • The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2)
  • MaddAddam (MaddAddam, #3)

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“If he wants to be an asshole, it's a free country. Millions before him have made the same life choice.” 242 likes
“He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Sheer vertigo.” 150 likes
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