Daniel's Reviews > Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
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Jul 19, 11

bookshelves: read-2007
Read in January, 2007

Oryx and Crake: towards this novel's end, I figured out why Atwood went with the title. Maybe I'm dense and should have seen it coming. In retrospect, the syllables do give it away. As it played out, I would call it a revelation on a minor scale. Let's go French and call it a 'revelationette.'

A few things bothered me about this book, most of all being the fact that the majority of the story is playing catch-up to the beginning. You know how some writers begin a chapter with something tantalizing? Some big kind of event? And then these writers turn things back a few hours, days, whatever, and proceed to tell the story about how the characters got to that tasty portion of the plot? Atwood applies this technique across at least half of the story. She also mixes in the present about every other chapter (maybe exactly every other, it's been awhile).

All of this Atwood does well, being the talented writer that she is. Trouble is, though, that the past parts she goes into are more interesting than the present ones--a lot more. Thus, when Atwood catches up to the present and fixates on it, a healthy amount of the momentum that's carrying the story seeps out, leaving an unhealthy amount of slack. By this point, I read because the prose was nice, and I did want to see the end. The urgency was gone, though, and I didn't finish this with the same zest for literature that Atwood inspired in the wrap-up to "Blind Assassin" (wowza!) and "The Handmaid's Tale" (huzzah!).

Sidebar: following the publication of this novel, I have read and heard criticism from other writers who have a beef with Atwood's denial that she writes science fiction. As Exhibit A, these writers point to this book. Me, I gotta ask, Who cares? Yes, Atwood posits a number of near-future developments in this book, and destroys civilization as we know it; and yes, these motifs are often attached to science fiction. That said, if Atwood wants to call this a Mutant-Man-Eating-Pigs meets Shakespearean-Po-Mo-Love-Triangle book, then, as the writer of the work and the progenitor of all that it contains, she can damn well do so. I swear, Atwood is a magnet for this kind of rigmarole.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Terry (new)

Terry Do I want to read this one?


Daniel You might: what do you want out of it?


message 3: by Terry (new)

Terry Well-written post-apocalyptic SF with concerns other than gender politics (Atwood's usual theme that I've come across.)


Daniel Dulac3 wrote: "Well-written post-apocalyptic SF with concerns other than gender politics (Atwood's usual theme that I've come across.)"

Hmm, I don't remember a lot of gender politics, but this being an Atwood book, I hesitate to give you a definitive "no." The post-apoc stuff is pretty good, though some of it may seem quaint now--especially the internet-related stuff. I do remember the book moving at a slow burn and amounting to less than I expected. Overall, I would say that this is a good book while not being as great as some of Atwood's other work, such as the Blind Assassin.


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