Annalisa's Reviews > Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
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's review
May 01, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: apocalypse, literary, speculative, sci-fi
Recommended to Annalisa by: Tatiana
Recommended for: Margaret Atwood fans

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 struggled to keep my personal feelings out of the story.

For much of the book I thought the grittiness of these characters overdone, graphic for the sake of being graphic. By the end of the book I got it. Atwood is comparing the depravity of society with a engineered race that asks the question what is better: innocence without substance or depravity with the complexities of the human mind that include creativity and appreciation for beauty? Does the human race deserve to live with the power we have to destroy our planet and ourselves? When is artificial too much? Image alterations, genetically engineered animals, or even mankind? What are the repercussions of the world we are now creating?

I think the concept was interesting and certainly got me thinking. Snowman is left to care for the genetically engineered children of Crake after a lab-produced virus wipes out the human race. Most of the book takes place in disconnected memory, making it slow to read. Even Snowman, while I initially liked him, didn't warrant much sympathy from me. He seemed so emotionally disconnected and didn't value or open up to the myriad of women he slept with. The middle especially dragged for me. I wanted to skip through all the grittiness to the answers Snowman was building up to. And I wanted more from the characters she brushes through. In Margaret Atwood style, we don't get answers as much as questions about society. I was okay with an open ending, but I wanted to know what Crake's intentions had been. We get Snowman's assumptions, but I wasn't a hundred percent sold on his view. I guess that's not the point of the book, though. Does it really matter what intentions people with too much power have when destruction is the same.

I'd say the book is a good one for Margaret Atwood fans. I wouldn't say it's as good as Handmaid's Tale, but along the same alley. I may come back and up my rating once the grittiness of the characters is shed and the impression of the novel is left.
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Reading Progress

May 1, 2010 – Started Reading
May 1, 2010 – Shelved
May 11, 2010 –
page 318
84.57% "Maybe tomorrow I'll finally finish. I keep thinking I'll finish today and I don't get to it."
May 12, 2010 – Shelved as: apocalypse
May 12, 2010 – Shelved as: literary
May 12, 2010 – Shelved as: speculative
May 12, 2010 – Shelved as: sci-fi
May 13, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Tatiana I hope you like it as much as I did:)

Annalisa Me too. So far I'm reveling in her writing.

message 3: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Can't wait to hear what you think. I read the follow up to this book (The Year of the Flood) without having read this one. It was a bad idea to read out of sequence. :)

message 4: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Annalisa, I've been wanting to read her The Year of the Flood but I've been told I should read this book first. You actually made it sound very interesting, but I can see why you'd feel disturbed.

Tatiana I've just realized I actually never fully like any of Atwood's characters...

Annalisa Lisa,
It may be a while before I get to The Year of the Flood, and as Laurel said, read this one first :). I've heard it's not as good.

I don't really like any of her characters either :).

Tatiana Yes, her stories are compelling, but characters are always unlikable, especially male characters.

message 8: by K (new) - rated it 4 stars

K I really appreciated your review. I'm almost done with the book, and your articulation of its strengths and weaknesses really resonates with me, especially re. Oryx's disturbing backstory, the ambiguity around Crake's intentions, and the overall slowness in the disjointed way that the story is told.

Anna Thank you for this review. I am half way through and am getting fed up with the grittiness of it, and the whole sexual abuse thing. Now, with your comments, I might be able to finish it since there seems there might be a point to it all. So, thanks.

message 10: by C.N. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.N. James don't get me wrong, I loved this book. However, The Year of the Flood is better. There is some sexual abuse that is disturbing but it works on many levels. One of which is creating sympathy for Toby, one of the main characters. Overall I loved how these two books wound together so well and told two unique stories.

message 11: by ari (new)

ari Stopped reading when the child abuse starts. I cant keep reading.. I did read the year of the flood and enjoyed it.

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