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Monthly Read: Themed > July Read: Oryx and Crake (Spoilers)

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood won for our first themed group read.

I'm going to try to ask questions as we go to help generate discussion.


message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments What did you guys think of the opening? What do you think of Snowman? Interesting character and situation typical?

Personally, I think it's original. I love Snowman. He makes me think of a skinny little guy who's adapted to his current situation, and so to us he seems somewhat insane.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Isn't this for July?

I haven't gotten to it yet :|


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments Yup, this is July's read.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Whew. Still have time then.


message 6: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I read this one a while back and I liked it. I can't squeeze in a re-read, but I will try to discuss. I'm curious what people will think of it.

I am really looking forward to reading the sequel as well. :)


message 7: by Chris (last edited Jul 03, 2011 10:38AM) (new)

Chris (necaros) | 28 comments ^ there's a sequel? Gonna have to look into that. (oh, I didn't relize that The Year of the Flood was the sequel to this! I might read that next!)
I read this earlier this year and loved it. It's such a great mix of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction.
Snowman is a pretty good character, his borderline personality combined with an unusual situation creates a rather mixed self perception. We are given such a dichotomy as the story goes back and forth between the two time-lines. Loved the way the story unfolded.
It's too bad that there is such a focus on the one taboo that is in the story. It's handled well, but it seems like it was too much of a detraction for some people.


message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Yep - The Year of the Flood.

One thing that struck me about this book was the food depicted. (view spoiler)

What aspect stood out to everyone else?


message 9: by Chris (last edited Jul 03, 2011 11:17AM) (new)

Chris (necaros) | 28 comments ^ Your spoiler should have been the part of the book that was focused on by readers! That is the truly terrifying part. This really is a precursor of what is to come unfortunately. This was the part that really stayed with me. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/66... has a really good section on what is currently happening on this kind of topic. The book is pretty scary, but written in such a foul mouthed tongue in cheek way.


message 10: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Chris, I must admit, I'm unsettled by the taboo subject. I had to put the book down for a while yesterday as a result, although, the story lines are keeping me engaged.


message 11: by Chris (new)

Chris (necaros) | 28 comments It's difficult to really figure out why she had written this in the story. I think it may be to emphasise how affected their youth is, and an allegory to what the over saturation of media is doing to the development of youth. It's tricky.. Ultimately, it's clear what it is about in the long run of the story. I think the author handled the subject very well, plainly stating what it is, but never going into unneeded detail. A brave decision on her part to included it.


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments I'm going to reiterate my questions above:

What did you guys think of the opening? What do you think of Snowman? Interesting character and situation typical?


message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments Just got the book today, I'll be joining you all shortly.


message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments I think this book is really quite fascinating. I hope you enjoy it, Jackie! :)


message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments I like it so far, only about 25 pages in. But I like how it opens with Snowman, who seems to be a remnant from the past and is the only one with knowledge of that past, even if it is somewhat broken...as is the world he inhabits.
The kids are interesting but there's something creepy about them.


message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments I think Snowman is somewhat broken himself. Perhaps a little insane. Understandable, though, given his circumstances.

And there's something very creepy about those kids. LOL


message 17: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments I think Snowman is somewhat broken himself. Perhaps a little insane. Understandable, though, given his circumstances.

And there's something very creepy about those kids. LOL


message 18: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments He's definitely broken, I can see that already. Insane? It's understandable. I think the death of my world and civilization would drive me insane too.
I really like what I've read so far and I'm rushing through my obligations so I can get back to it at some point tonight.


message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments Yeah, I have a lot on the plate, too. I think I've been reading this one for about two weeks now and I'm still only about 25% in.


message 20: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments Sometimes I like it better when I take my time, it allows me time to think about what I've read. I can't always do that though, other times the story is so good that I can't help but blow through it.


message 21: by Chris (new)

Chris (necaros) | 28 comments Jason wrote "I think Snowman is somewhat broken himself. Perhaps a little insane. Understandable, though, given his circumstances"
The author sets the stage with this character very well, this is a troubled man, the story lays out exactly why. It's difficult to figure out the whole 'communicating' with Oryx thing.. That is a little on the crazy side.
This is such a thought provoking book, it's almost like several of the elements of it are meant to get under your skin, forcing you to consider how you feel about them.


message 22: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new)

Maggie K | 1282 comments Mod
I think Atwood excels at doing thought-provoking. Laying things out so matter of factly that they stick in yoru mind for awhile.


message 23: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments I love her prose, too. It flows so easily, like great poetry. It sounds great when read aloud!


message 24: by Aloha (last edited Jul 07, 2011 08:34PM) (new)

Aloha | 538 comments I thought the opening was terrific. I was absorbed into his internal dialogue. There was enough mystery where I wondered what happened to cause him to be in his present state. It seems to me it might have something to do with the genetic manipulation his father was involved in. There was mention of Oryx, but what happened to her? He seemed to be all alone with the exception of that half racoon/half skunk creature he adopted.


message 25: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments I definitely will be reading more of her stuff. Her writing style is terrific!


message 26: by Chris (new)

Chris (necaros) | 28 comments Jason wrote: "I love her prose, too. It flows so easily, like great poetry. It sounds great when read aloud!"
I'm actually reading The Year of the Flood, as I have read O&C very recently, it has some of her poetry included in the book.
I love the way Atwood writes, it's almost perfect. You can tell that this is someone who really has studied their craft, and has the experience to back it. Her grammar is impeccable. How many authors actually use a hyphen correctly?


message 27: by Michael (new)

Michael (the_smoking_gnu) | 9 comments Jason wrote: "I'm going to reiterate my questions above:

What did you guys think of the opening? What do you think of Snowman? Interesting character and situation typical?"

I finished the audiobook today. The narration and the writing are really captivating.
I was a bit confused and annoyed by the beginning. In my book it starts out as a young adult novel, told from a young lost boy with limited insight. I am a bit weary of of this narrative device.
(view spoiler)
I think Atwood's understanding of genetics and evolution are a bit too simplistic, for example when she describes the invention of bacteria which don't damage your teeth. They would have to have a competitive advantage over the bacteria already present in the mouth, which is rather unlikely if their abilities are limited. In the long run these less competitive bacteria would have to be reintroduced constantly. Compare 'probiotic' yoghurts, the bacteria which they introduce into your intestinal tract have to be constantly replenished, otherwise they disappear because they can't complete with the naturally occurring bacteria. Tests with genetically engineered bacteria in fighting contaminations in situ, for example oil spills, haven't managed to provide workable solutions.
Nowadays it's incredible how fast sci-fi novels get dated, they stayed in contact via email. ;)
I was a bit frustrated by how illogical Snowman's made-up universe is and how little he tries to teach the Crakers, for example for a start why does he call hair feathers?
Nonetheless it was an engrossing, worthwhile story.


message 28: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments I finished the audio yesterday. I loved it! I always thought it was from the vantage point of an adult. I never had an impression that it was from the vantage point of a boy, except from memory. I didn't focus on the technicality of genetics but on the overall storytelling, which I thought flowed seamlessly. I agree with your assessment of Snowman's usage of the term "feathers" instead of "hair." I would think that the Crakers would have enough intelligence to differentiate between "feathers" and "hairs."


message 29: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments I could see one reason why he would use the tern "feathers". There was a point in the book where he said he let his imagination run away with him instead of being practical. "Feathers" would seem more magical because it relates to bird and flying. Snowman's character was described as more imaginative and human than his friend Crake, who was analytical to a fault.


message 30: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments I've put the sequel The Year of the Flood on my reading list. The book left us hanging for a sequel. I enjoyed this one so much, I want it to continue.


message 31: by Aloha (last edited Jul 13, 2011 05:48AM) (new)

Aloha | 538 comments But if we're going to get technical....:o)

It is conceivable that a bacteria could be introduced which won't damage your teeth. All it takes is a minor manipulation of the gene. For example, I read an article regarding some strains of mouth bacteria (ones which cause cavity) which can travel through the bloodstream and infect the heart, a condition called endocarditis. This is done via a collagen-binding protein called CNM, which enables the bacteria the to invade the heart tissue. When CNM is knocked out of the gene, then the bacteria loses its ability to invade the heart tissue. With genetic manipulation, all it takes is a slight modification for a strain of bacteria to overcome the normal strain found in the environment.


message 32: by Michael (new)

Michael (the_smoking_gnu) | 9 comments Why would the bacteria without CNM be more competitive / better equipped for the ecological niche than the regular bacteria?
Bacteria can transfer abilities among themselves.
With a generation time of 20 min under optimum conditions evolution happens very fast in bacteria.


message 33: by Aloha (last edited Jul 13, 2011 06:11AM) (new)

Aloha | 538 comments To Jason's question and reiteration of the question....LOL

I think it ruined it for me a little bit knowing that this is a post-apocalyptic novel. The opening could have been an earthling at a distant planet inhabited by a race of less progressive humanoids. But because I knew that this is a post-apocalyptic novel, I knew that Snowman had survived some sort of mass destruction of mankind and is fighting for survival. I wondered about the children and why they're so innocent, since the beginning said it's only been 2-3 mos. since the apocalypse.

I thought Snowman is a terrific every man character. You can relate to him because he is realistic in his discomfort and ruminations, yet there is a hidden strength which enables him to survive. He is vulnerable and yet strong at the same time. We can all relate to that. We've all had times where we feel we can't go on, but we do, anyway. The situation is typical in that it is of a post-apocalyptic theme, but atypical in that he seems to be dealing with some sort of an innocent race. The book was published in 2003, so there may already have been post-apocalyptic type of novels in which some of the survivors were innocent child-like humans. If anybody can think of some, let me know. I know movies older than 2003 have depicted going back to primitive times after an apocalypse. So, in that regards, I do not think the situation is typical. I do think her writing skill is outstanding, though.

Jason wrote: "What did you guys think of the opening? What do you think of Snowman? Interesting character and situation typical?

Personally, I think it's original. I love Snowman. He makes me think of a skinny ..."



message 34: by Jackie (last edited Jul 13, 2011 06:17AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments I'm finding Atwood just a bit too preachy. Oh you evil, yet brilliant, humans! Big yawn. Ironically, I'm still enjoying the novel. Snowmans's POV is pretty damn interesting and I like how his story goes way back.

I always thought it was an adult's voice.

Aloha, I've heard Year of the Flood isn't exactly a sequel, but events simultaneously occurring elsewhere. I didn't know about O&C and had bought YotF so it's sitting on my shelf until after I finish this. Let me know when you plan on reading it, if I'm not otherwise occupied, I'll buddy-read it with you if you're interested.


message 35: by Aloha (last edited Jul 13, 2011 06:21AM) (new)

Aloha | 538 comments On thinking about it, you're right, Michael. For a bacteria that won't damage your teeth, it would have to destroy the bacteria that damages your teeth. That means something has to be introduced that is similar but superior and with a destructive capability. I don't think I would want a bacteria in my mouth with a capability to destroy my normal cavity causing bacteria. But since this is a novel about genetic manipulation gone mad, it is conceivable that a genetic material is spliced to the regular cavity causing bacteria's genetic sequence that has had its cavity causing ability nulled, to destroy the normal cavity causing bacteria.


Michael wrote: "Why would the bacteria without CNM be more competitive / better equipped for the ecological niche than the regular bacteria?
Bacteria can transfer abilities among themselves.
With a generation time..."



message 36: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments Jackie, I'll buddy read YotF with you. I have to get through Elantris first, which is one of Fantasy Aficionado's thick ones. Damn Jason and his inviting me to all his forums!


message 37: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments Aloha, I still have A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons to get through.
How is Elantris? I think I want to read it one of these days.


message 38: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments I just started it, so I can't really judge it. Looks like you have a couple of thick ones, too! LOL


message 39: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 44 comments The best ones usually are, lol


message 40: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments This book is also appealing to me because of the romance element, in how deeply Snowman loves and thinks of Oryx. In that way, it is somewhat of a chick lit and written with a woman's perspective.


message 41: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments There was one expectation that was a disappointment to me. I thought it was mentioned that Oryx's clan has the ability to project themselves out of the body. (view spoiler) That would have added more interest to the story.


message 42: by Aloha (last edited Jul 13, 2011 10:00AM) (new)

Aloha | 538 comments You can see the contrast between Crake and Jimmy (Snowman) in MA's depiction of their hobbies of playing violent video games and going into extreme web sites. (view spoiler)


message 43: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments Jason, if you don't respond to all my queries, I'm going to repeat every one of my posts.


SubterraneanCatalyst (thelazyabsentmindedreviewer) | 47 comments Is it wrong of me to not want to read this because I disliked The Handmaid's Tale so badly? I mean it was well written, certainly, but I absolutely despised reading it and hate the book. I understand why and the purpose but I find it so incredibly depressing lol.


message 45: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments Personal taste is never wrong, SubC. You're the one who has to read it.


message 46: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments I'm a bad book discussion leader...LOL. I got a little behind there. :(

I agree with everything Michael said, except for the feel of Snowman's Age. I always felt like he was an adult, too. A little loopy, sure, but an adult.

I'm not all that up on my science, so I can't really comment on bacteria, though I think it would be an awesome thing to have, a bacteria that kills cavity causing bacteria in your mouth; so long as it keeps your breath smelling fresh, as well, I'm good to go. That's four to six minutes a day I could recover from brushing my teeth. LOL

Aloha, you brought up one of the interesting parts of the book to me concerning humanity. Where Crake and Jimmy (snowman) (view spoiler)


message 47: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments Jason, you love to repeat yourself, don't you? LOL Just because you post it twice, doesn't increase the quality of the discussion.


message 48: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments SubterraneanCatalyst wrote: "Is it wrong of me to not want to read this because I disliked The Handmaid's Tale so badly? I mean it was well written, certainly, but I absolutely despised reading it and hate the book. I understa..."

What was it, exactly, that bothered you about The Handmaid's Tale?

It is a difficult book to get through. I'm not talking style, either. It's dark and disturbing with very little in the way of hope. I would say that Oryx and Crake has the same sort of feeling in it, but isn't quite as bleak as Handmaid's Tale. So you might like it better. But then, you might not.

I agree with Aloha, though. Personal taste is never wrong.


message 49: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 422 comments Aloha wrote: "Jason, you love to repeat yourself, don't you? LOL Just because you post it twice, doesn't increase the quality of the discussion."

Stupid button wasn't working, and then it was. LOL


message 50: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 538 comments There's a Stupid button at the forum? Or do you mean you have a Stupid button? ;o)


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