Friday, November 13, 2009

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Set in distant future, Mankind has taken several giant leaps in the unintentional destruction of the human race. "Oryx and Crake" tells the story of a lone man, Snowman - once known as Jimmy - who is probably the last surviving human. Snowman finds himself surrounded by Children of Crake (or Crakers), in a world destroyed by global warming and rife with the results of extreme genetic modification - both of the animal kingdom and of humans.

Snowman is left behind after humans perish, and finds himself the unlikely guardian of the Crakers - genetically engineered beings with unusual traits of various animals, and an almost charming innocence that Snowman seems to want to protect, yet can also use to his advantage. From his treehouse-hideout, wrapped in a sheet in lieu of clothing, Snowman looks back through his life as Jimmy, his security growing up in one of the Compounds, his friendship with Crake and his love of Oryx, and how Crake's genius - in a world already surviving one disaster - leads to the populations's ultimate demise.

As a huge fan of apocalyptic-themed books, science fiction and Margaret Atwood, I had high hopes for "Oryx and Crake". The theme of the book, the ideas expressed, the grotesque arrogance of mankind is all excellent, with a very clever story that makes it very different from a disaster novel. Some of the writing did feel a little clunky at times; certain elements taken from interesting to overplayed; and it probably took a good 1/3 of the book to really care what was happening & what to find out the why's, the when's and what next? I was pleased to pass beyond that point, however, as the story delves into what really brought about the end of the human race.

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