This book is so riveting and the story it tells so salacious in its essential details that it almost feels like a "guilty pleasure", a cheap tabloid rThis book is so riveting and the story it tells so salacious in its essential details that it almost feels like a "guilty pleasure", a cheap tabloid read. But then you remember that these are real men murdering and raping real women. And then suddenly it's just depressing as hell and rather difficult to read.
Krakauer's prose is unfailingly thorough, engaging, and credible. I'm becoming a really big fan. His books are always so memorable. I read Into Thin Air as a teenager 20 years ago, and never forgot his name, but for some reason I never read anything else by him until I picked up Eiger Dreams and Into The Wild earlier this year. He is as good as ever.
I'm not sure how so many reviers are seeing this book as biased against Mormons. For instance, Krakauer does a fantastic job of detailing all the oppression and murderous attacks faced by the Mormon community in its initial decades, and makes absolutely no excuses for the attackers. There are several passages in which he mourns the loss of Mormon property and life at the hands of antagonistic non-mormons, and expresses outrage at the fact that these criminals never got punished. He traces the rise of the mainstream LDS church striking a pragmatic rather than judgemental note as he discusses its movement away from plural marriage and absolute racism. I'm not sure how anyone could read this book and come away with the idea that Krakauer indicts all Mormons as a bloodthirsty murderous rape-loving bunch. ...more
LOVED IT. Atwood really blew this one out of the water.
As good as Oryx and Crake was, the POV character was really hard to like (which I thought occaLOVED IT. Atwood really blew this one out of the water.
As good as Oryx and Crake was, the POV character was really hard to like (which I thought occasionally bled over into the author's storytelling as well - see my review on goodreads). It was a weakness in an otherwise great book.
This one, though. WOW. We see the apocalypse from the perspective of the lower classes, the ones who don't live in hyperprivileged corp compounds, who have to scrounge and fight to survive. The heart of the book is the doomsday cult mentiioned onyl in passing in Oryx and Crake, the God's Gardeners, and these guys? They are a work of genius. I've been a staunch and occasionally "militant" atheist since I was old enough to wonder about God (~10 yrs old), but I'd be a God's Gardeners in a heartbeat. Adam One's sermons, the saints (St. Dian Fossey! St Stephen J Gould!) and the feast days, the songs praising every part of the biosphere from worms to predators, the idea of going back to earth in the midst of an apocalypse wrought of humanity's movement in the opposite direction.. All brilliant.
Equally brilliant is the depiction of the lives of women in this new era, how so little has changed sociologically for women while so much has changed technologically. Even the awesome Toby excuses and condones child molesters within their midst saying "At least he only touched the *girls*, not the boys." And yet the threat of sexual assault hangs over all the women, often realized but present even when not. The women are always looking over their shoulders, just as a matter of course, almost unnoticed by the reader.
I wish there was similar mention made of race and racism. But no. Race does not exist anymore, apparently, as a sociological phenomenon. Hard to believe. Atwood dropped the ball here.
More happens in this book than happens in Oryx and Crake. It is not all flashback, and even the flashbacks contain more action and more dialogue. There is humor flowing through this depressing book like a dark underground creek, the kind you're afraid to drink freely from for fear of where it's coming from.
I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts in order, into any sort of coherent flow, but there you have it. This book is good. Read it....more
(This review is spoiler-free until my warning near the middle)
That was... oddly compelling. Much better than I had expected it to be, given what I kne(This review is spoiler-free until my warning near the middle)
That was... oddly compelling. Much better than I had expected it to be, given what I knew of the plot. I'm not a fan of apocalyptic sci fi, and I'm definitely not a fan of apocalyptic sci fi in which nothing happens for long stretches of time. But somehow this one defied expectations and I ended up loving it.
Here's what I liked about this book:
1. The main POV character. Literally the only character in this book who was multidimensional and this actually shows how irredeemably, humanly flawed he is. He's an apathetic, sexist, self-centered manchild made loveable by the grace with which he deals with his new reality.
2. The nature of the apocalypse. Atwood is masterful at scaring the shit out of me because her dyatopias are sickeningly plausible. Maybe an exaggerated bit of paranoia here and some regrettable dated technological references there, sure. But brilliant and horrifying in its overall likelihood.
3. HERE BE SPOILERS HERE BE SPOILERS The stories Snowman makes up for the Crakers. There was just something so creepy and primordial about it. I felt like I glimpsed some very unsettling truths about human nature in the precise stories Snowman tells and the Crakers' reaction to them.
HERE BE MORE SPOILERS
What I didn't like about this book was how awfully sexualy objectified all the women are. Maybe it was deliberate. Maybe that's just Jimmy's/Snowman's way. But regardless it was painful to read. Oryx especially. Augh. Was there even a single stereotype about sex workers NOT crammed into her story? Even in death she is denied the dignity of humanity granted to Crake: her corpse lies demurely face-down, swathed in pretty silks, forever the sexy pixie dream doll. Couldn't have allowed a single fart to escape her perfectly sexy buttocks as she died, could we? It's places like this where I think the line is crossed between character building of Snowman and straight up objectification by the authorial voice.
Those are my thoughts. For now. Can't wait to read the next book.
I listened to this as an audiobook read by Campbell Scott. Scott is one of the good ones. His reading style is bland and unadorned, but despite this he is compelling rather than boring, and honestly, the style just added to the book's atmosphere. ...more
If nothing else, read the chapter on advertising in this book: that alone is worth the cover price. I've read it three times already and I'm finding sIf nothing else, read the chapter on advertising in this book: that alone is worth the cover price. I've read it three times already and I'm finding something new to think about each time in that chapter. Friedan does this trick of hitting it out of the ballpark a couple more times in the book... a ho-hum chapter here and then suddenly WHAM. Certainly makes one sit up.
Though some parts of this book are a little dated (its focus on white middle-to-upper-class women, its insistence on devaluing motherhood, its support of Freudian antihomosexuality etc), there are overwhelmingly more parts of it that are still fresh and very relevant today. This is a must read for any feminist and probably an eye-opening read for anybody else. ...more