Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

"He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Clear vertigo."

This post-apocalyptic novel focuses on the character of Snowman, previously known as Jimmy, as he begins to cope with the idea that he may be the last human on earth.  Snowman is living near a group of human-like creatures called the Crakers that have been genetically engineered to be the ideal species.  The Crakers can communicate, but have simplified speech and thought processes.  They see Snowman as their leader and teacher.  Slowly starving to death, Snowman leaves the group to return to the ruins of a compound that he worked at in search of food and supplies.   He must escape from hybrid pigs that have overrun the area in order to get back to the Crakers.

During this time, Snowman has frequent flashbacks to his previous life as Jimmy and readers slowly piece together the events that lead to world-wide destruction.  Jimmy lives in what seems to be the early twenty-second century.  The United States is dominated by corporations called compounds where scientists are exploring areas such as immortality, bioengineering, and reproduction. In grade school, Jimmy meets his best friend Crake and they spend time playing advanced computer games and watching executions and porn on the internet.  After attending college, Jimmy goes to work with Crake who has become the leader of a bioengineering company that specializes in allowing parents to chose ideal traits for their children.  Jimmy falls in love with Oryx, Crakes lover and employee who works with the Crakers.  Crake’s company creates a drug that is marketed to cure all sicknesses and imperfections, but a global pandemic breaks out shortly after it is distributed.  Jimmy has been given a vaccine to the disease and is left to deal with the collapse of society.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale by the same author in high school and thought that this one sounded interesting as well.  I have read a few science fiction books, (although not many) but I really enjoyed this book.  It was very engaging and had a perfect mix of technology and interaction between the characters.  I loved how the author used flashbacks to slowly reveal to readers how the events unfolded.  I am very excited to read the two remaining books in the trilogy!

This book was #4 on my top ten list of 2015.

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