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Group Reads > Group Read: Oryx and Crake

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message 1: by Kate (last edited May 31, 2012 07:22AM) (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments Greetings, all! Our second group read for June is
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. We'll target June 4, 2012 as a start date and aim for 100 pages per week.

I hope to facilitate an interesting discussion. Introductions, please!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oryx_and...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret...


message 2: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Hi Kate: I'll be reading this one along with you. Cheers.


message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate | 251 comments I'll be joining you all too! Looking forward to it.


message 4: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (foxwrapped) | 51 comments Kate wrote: "I'll be joining you all too! Looking forward to it."

Excellent! I just bought this book a few days ago.


message 5: by VWrulesChick (new)

VWrulesChick | 351 comments I'm in for this book - look forward to discussing it with you all. :)


message 6: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley | 396 comments I'm in! I have an autographed first of this that I've been dying to read. Perfect opportunity.


message 7: by Marissa (new)

Marissa (mdawnh96) | 107 comments Mod
Looks like I'll be joining in on this read as well!


message 8: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments T minus two days or so. I got a head start. As you read, watch for made-up, futuristic words. I may compile a list.

Our narrator is identified as Snowman; why was Snowman chosen and what is its meaning?

Atwood opens with Jonathan Swift and Virginia Woolf quotes. Does the story give them context, meaning or value as it unfolds?


message 9: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments I've been putting this one off, but you've given me a good reason to dive in, and the GBPL has provided a copy just in time, and I conveniently just finished a book yesterday, so I'm in.


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanthomas) | 208 comments Never read anything by Atwood, so I'm coming along for the ride!


message 11: by Kate (last edited Jun 06, 2012 06:40PM) (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments I'm a bit ahead; I think the two pages scheduled to end our week constitute some great writing (pp. 103-104?). Some of you may be more astute at literary analysis (or farther along in the story) but I wondered, at first, are the children a metaphor? a hallucination? actual characters?


message 12: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Namba I just finished this book (right before I joined the group) and am very interested in hearing what other people think of it. I had actually read this book long ago (when it first came out) and I found that the second pass was not as good as the first. However, I still thought it was a very good read!


message 13: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Namba You might want to clarify that. Are you talking about the child versions of Snowman, Oryx and Crake, or are you referring to the children in the movies, or the Craker children (the one's who live in the forest)?


message 14: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments Thanks, Melissa. I meant the children in the forest (w/ whom Snowman interacts pp 103-104). I could read those pages over and over.


message 15: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley | 396 comments After having read almost 200 pages I have to say that my concerns over not enjoying her books other than The Handmaid's Tale are in the past! I am really enjoying several things about this one...how she portrays the characters as youths, the creation of the religion surrounding Crake and Oryx, and how she weaves the backstory into the narration.


message 16: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments i'm a big fan of The Handmaid's Tale, and my husband is currently reading The Blind Assassin (and really enjoying it) so at the last minute i decided to participate in this group read.

the problem is that i can't put the book down! i love the way that Atwood plays with the time line so that you slowly begin to understand what's happening and bit by bit learn why.


message 17: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments Same here, Naomi (as evidenced by my question about whether the children are a metaphor . . .) I didn't finish Blind Assassin but I'm moving on to both when I'm done with this one.


message 18: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments How's everyone doing? I'm creeping up on page 206 or so; about what I planned for week 2. Not sure that I can slow down.

What say you about Atwood's 2003 impression of societal values?


message 19: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Namba Atwood does that to you. Its always so hard to put down one of her books because you know there is something good waiting for you right around the corner. It's been a long time since I read the blind Assassin and you al have me thinking I need to go grab that from my dad's house and add it to my (ever growing) summer reading pile.


message 20: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments i'm at around page 230 now and i know i can't slow down -- the story is so compelling. i think Atwood's genius is that she is able to take situations and events that are happening now and turn them into our worst nightmares. but not in an over-the-top, exploding-bodies, mad-max kind of way. her stories are much more subtle, and more (potentially) 'real-life'; which makes them all the more frightening.


message 21: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments It's always scarier when you can look around the world today and see where a turn here, or a jump there and what's being described in the story is totally possible. Atwood is so good at it that I resisted having direct deposit or a debit card for years because of "The Handmaid's Tale".


message 22: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments I'm on p. 257. I thought I'd share a passage: ". . . maybe there werern't any solutions. Human society . . . was a sort of monster, its main by-products being corpses and rubble. It never learned, it made the same cretinous mistakes over and over, trading short-term gain for long-term pain. It was like a giant slug eating its way relentlessly through all of the other bioforms on the planet . . .


message 23: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments Sometimes I like it when a complex story has a theme summarized specifically (propagandized?) like the above. Other times, I'm offended -- as if to say "I knew what you were driving at; you didn't have to spell it out". Here, I enjoyed stumbling upon the passage (perhaps because there's much left to ponder beyond or within this theme?)


message 24: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments I planned 100 pages per week; are most of us zipping along must faster?


message 25: by Naomi V (last edited Jun 12, 2012 09:30AM) (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments Kate wrote: "I planned 100 pages per week; are most of us zipping along must faster?"

i finished it Sunday so i'm hanging back until everybody else is finished. i'm not a fast reader -- i just could NOT put this book down


message 26: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley | 396 comments Finished as well. ;)


message 27: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments I'm not a fast reader either and I'm sitting here with my morning coffee staring down the last 60 pages and/or not wanting it to end. Just got Paris wife; maybe that will ease the pain. I'm going to double back to do the second june rEad.


message 28: by Kate (new)

Kate | 251 comments Woah, I'm so behind as I was working on finishing some other books and work before starting. I'm twenty-some pages in and WOW. Perfectly creepy. Well done, Ms. Atwood.


message 29: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments Kate wrote: "I'm not a fast reader either and I'm sitting here with my morning coffee staring down the last 60 pages and/or not wanting it to end. Just got Paris wife; maybe that will ease the pain. I'm going to double back to do the second june rEad..."

i may do that as well


message 30: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanthomas) | 208 comments I got a late start but I'm 100 pgs along now and have mixed feelings. I'm curious to find ou not what is going to happen, but what has already happened to create the person we know as Snowman. While it's not necessarily a page turner for me, I find it interesting and will keep at it.


message 31: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments What does the character Oryx represent for you?
Does Crake seem artificial or that typical lifelong
crappy friend or an oracle or what?


message 32: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley | 396 comments Crake reminds me of this friend of my son. He has Asbergers and he's very bright but not too...socially aware.

Oryx seemed to be the unobtainable fantasy.


message 34: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Crake definately seems to be on the spectrum to me. Reminds me a lot of my son as well as a few engineers. Very believable to me.

Have to agree with Tim about Oryx. I'm also wondering if she fits as the type of person who uses what they have to survive. But to Snowman, she is indeed the fantasy.


message 35: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanthomas) | 208 comments Well I've finished the book and, b/c of my practice of not reading reviews, etc., before reading a book, I am now left with the knowledge that I have to read other works to figure everything out. I'm not really happy about that, b/c I don't know when I can work it in. So I feel sort of cheated, but there's really no one to blame.

As for the discussion of Crake, I didn't see him on the spectrum so much as I thought of him as sort of psychopathic. His character didn't lend itself to emotion or sympathy, but dealt with logic and facts to the exclusion of morality and ethics. But we aren't given the privilege of seeing inside of Crake like we are with Snowman. He bares all/tells all, leaving nothing out for appearances sake.


message 36: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Susan, Crake is so much like my son, it's a little un-nerving. Everything is based on logic and human emotion is illogical. Not saying you're opinion isn't accurate so much as explaining many people deeply rooted in the spectrum, could be just the way he is.


message 37: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments Well, here's a thought: a person with difficulty reading social cues is easy prey, sometimes. Crake was the perfect recruit. More savvy entitites capitalized on logic/equation being closer to his comfort zone than morality and ethics. In contrast, Snowman is sentimental, thoughtful and emotional -- Oryx bridges the gap between the two? I'm sure that I could communicate this theory more effectively . . . just rookie musings!


message 38: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments So, no one feels that Crake's actions are in some way informed by the circumstances of his father's death? Grief mixed in with the ability to exact a terrible revenge? In crafting his children, hasn't he removed from them the things that caused him pain?


message 39: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanthomas) | 208 comments Donna wrote: "So, no one feels that Crake's actions are in some way informed by the circumstances of his father's death? Grief mixed in with the ability to exact a terrible revenge? In crafting his children, has..."

I can see what you're saying, Donna, and I hadn't really considered that as a cause. I suppose we can only speculate based on the story.


message 40: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments i think that to some extent, Crake thinks of everything as a game. he spent his childhood watching images of anything and everything on his computer and playing sometimes violent games; and to him the rest of it (his 'research,' what he develops) is just another game. he doesn't seem to have the morals/ethics to understand the potential repercussions of what he's done. he would have to be a sociopath to invent and spread a virus that he knows to be deadly.


message 41: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Or be completely contemptuous of the culture that killed his father for objecting to the same thing being done on a smaller scale and for profit. I never had the impression that Crake was naive enough to not understand the repercussions. He certainly knew what he was doing when he killed his stepfather - a trial run of sorts.


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanthomas) | 208 comments Naomi wrote: "i think that to some extent, Crake thinks of everything as a game. he spent his childhood watching images of anything and everything on his computer and playing sometimes violent games; and to hi..."

Jimmy spent much of his childhood with Crake, but he did not become like him. They both watched the degrading events and played violent games together, so there's more to it than cirumstances. There was something about Crake that led him to disconnect from what we think of as social norms and morality


message 43: by Naomi V (last edited Jun 20, 2012 03:38PM) (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments Susan wrote: "Jimmy spent much of his childhood with Crake, but he did not become like him. They both watched the degrading events and played violent games together, so there's more to it than cirumstances. There was something about Crake that led him to disconnect from what we think of as social norms and morality..."

you're absolutely right. in the case of sociopaths, science now believes that the propensity is there at a very young age and that without intervention, their path is set. i guess i made it sound that his experience made him into a sociopath; which isn't what i meant, and i apologize for being unclear. i should have been clearer that his experience fed into and exacerbated his sociopathic tendencies.

i also want to make clear to the others on this list that pointed out Crake's logical side. i'm not at all implying that somebody who is logical/rational and not very emotional is a sociopath -- it's not at all the same thing.


message 44: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments So, general impression? Will you finish "the madadam trilogy"?


message 45: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley | 396 comments I already have The Year of the Flood on hold at work. ;)


message 46: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanthomas) | 208 comments I have too many irons in the fire in the coming weeks, but eventually I hope to get back to it. A friend of mine from Canada told me that Atwood is read/revered there in much the same way as Mark Twain is in the US. Not sure about her analogy, but I found the information useful in framing Atwood's work.


message 47: by Naomi V (new)

Naomi V (naomi_v) | 559 comments Kate wrote: "So, general impression? Will you finish "the madadam trilogy"?"

had the third book been published? i'm definitely going to read The Year of the Flood but i can't find that a copy of Madd Adam has been published.


message 48: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments It's been on by tbr list for a while, as has Oryx & Crake. Now I'll be moving it up.


message 49: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 741 comments Finished The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982 The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates 1973-1982 by Joyce Carol Oates while on vacation. Underline, underline, underline . . .


message 50: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Kate, thank so much for moderating this thread!


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