**spoiler alert** I've not done much literary reviews lately, but seeing the strong reactions that this book elicited, I felt I had to offer my input.**spoiler alert** I've not done much literary reviews lately, but seeing the strong reactions that this book elicited, I felt I had to offer my input. In my personal opinion, this is the most intellectually honest book of the 3. I feel this maybe got such varied reactions because it's a beast of many genres spliced together (yes, i just made that analogy), and so this leads to uncertainty as to whether this is a thriller pushing through to an exciting conclusion, or something else. Expectations thwarted and people are left unsatisfied. In my view in this book more than the other three Margaret Atwood has dethroned humanity. By the end of the book, there are three humanoid species left, the Crakers, the Pigoons and us. We've become anachronistic and in my eyes there seems to be the sense that not longer after the book ends, all humans are gone.
I feel also that a good deal of book 3 is that of the characters losing their naivete. They are confronting the reality of people that they have idolized, learning to share their stories and the stories of other people and see each other for who they really are, rather than continuing to live--and suffer--under the delusions they held. This happens even with Blackbeard seeing the bodies of Crake and Oryx.
I regret a great deal that there's not a great deal of agency in the characters, but nearly everyone shows themselves to be sturdy and capable when they need to be. Now, that said, sure it is improbable how many people knew each other, but I feel that the 3rd volume makes this all the more clear. In volumes 1 and especially 2, this seemed like lazy writing, but then reading in #3 about all the greater machinations going on behind the scenes, and nothing seemed accidental or improbable. It felt like volume 3 was less about creatively trying to build on top of an existing plot structure, and rather more like excavating below one.
This is kind of a 'middle-age' novel, where you're past your infancy and you're seeing the world more clearly. Ren meets Jimmy and he's not this great person that she had idealized, a lot of the book is Toby hearing Zeb undercut the idealized version of himself. I think this is an interesting theme and it ties into the greater plot, where we are made to see humanity as not so great and wonderful. It is a severe judgement when considering how, with most of humanity gone, and a purer, idealistic version of ourselves living on without us, that life feels clean and fresh and open. I suppose this is the major Fall-and-Decline criticism that you see, where one's habits, when taken to an extreme scale, make us become sclerotic, stiff, unable to adapt and change, where life has become a prison and there's nowhere to go but down. We see some of the good people are capable of, but on the whole there's very little of it when compared to the amount of suffering these people cause each other in the pre-Flood days. Going back to the seeming improbability of all these people knowing each other before the Flood, it doesn't seem quite so improbable when the book forces you to question: would I know how to get by if any of this happens? And for the vast majority the answer is no, I'd be toast almost immediately. Then you consider the small percentage that knows how to get by, and it doesn't seem so unlikely that they happen to know each other, especially given the majority are connected to a cult that rejected all technology and had learned to live that way for years before the Flood.
Once I got over not thinking there'd be a rousing conclusion, it was a little startling that there was a mini-one in the last 50 pages with the Battle. I suppose my 5 star rating comes less from execution and more from the power and originality of thought. Definitely beats Orwell out of the water in many ways (leading me to think that this book is a bit 1984 and Animal Farm mashed together). ...more
These show Camus' extraordinary range and his ability to defamiliarize. One gets the sense that he is the cook from Growing Stone, now laughing at theThese show Camus' extraordinary range and his ability to defamiliarize. One gets the sense that he is the cook from Growing Stone, now laughing at the Westerner for feeling out of his element. What especially caught me was even in English translation you could sense he wrote the French in the way of a Brazilian trying to speak French, using their syntax. Woah.
Each story impressed me more and more, and at times I felt a foreshadowing of Bolano. They were all so different, written so differently as well, and yet that shows the universality of his themes all the more....more
Having read David Foster Wallace's critiques of Athlete Autobio's ("I wanted to do it, I tried hard, then I did it!" reiterated enough times to fill 3Having read David Foster Wallace's critiques of Athlete Autobio's ("I wanted to do it, I tried hard, then I did it!" reiterated enough times to fill 300 pages), all of his points here ring true. The man seems super friendly and there's plenty of good tips. But another point from DFW and his trouble with pop science books rings true here, too: the people that run a lot and who are the likely audience of the book won't get a lot out of the tips, which are basic in the extreme. In that sense I'd be happy to see a Jurek training guide. My feeling is that the co-author likely told the man to add lots of blood and guts parts to the book, which to me overemphasized the pain aspect of the sport, in the hopes of commercial success.
Inspiring book, I'll be eager to read his blog and try all the recipes as well as his other book recommendations....more
I was close to giving 4, but chose not to for one fact: any other writer given this setting would not come anywhere as close to coming to a result filI was close to giving 4, but chose not to for one fact: any other writer given this setting would not come anywhere as close to coming to a result filled with the significant level of optimism found here. Lots of tender moments, all of this despite the lack of meaning in a persons life. He does a great job of occupying both--seemingly oppositional--points at the same time, and showing they can coexist. I'd even go so far to say that he gave the example that great parts of Europe and significant segments of America adopted as their outlook on life-- even with the Absurd there can be joie de vivre and human dignity....more