Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)

At once ludicrous, laughable but by turns depressingly plausible. This was a very interesting read. I found Atwood’s language, as usual, compelling and the characters she develops rather successfully are repellent but forgivably familiar at the same time. Atwood herself described this work as “speculative fiction” loathe as she has been to sit in the science fiction category, “there are no spaceships or martians” she has said. This tale is an apocolyptic nightmare described as the natural progression of the way the world is already going. The imaginative narrative tells of gene splicing projects producing pigoons, rakunks and snats and culminating in an ingenious reinvention of ‘man’ in the form of the Crakers. The main protagonist Jimmy, or Snowman, is a flawed human being but a sympathetic character and he leads us steadily through a tale littered with the depraved indifference, ignorance, brutality and arrogance of man. He tells the chilling story of Crake (his big-brained, narcissistic and dangerous best friend of old, who brings about the swift end of civilization following years of facilitated megalomania in the employ of greedy corporations) and Oryx (the beautiful, mysterious, and fleetingly diaphanous lover that they share). It is a disturbing novel and, while not one of my favourite Atwood offerings, it was food for thought and quite difficult to set down. One thing I must complain about, however, is the ending. I was disappointed with the last page of the book — it seemed lazy to me and not particulary poignant following the sometimes deeply philosophical and visionary progression of the fable. I still enjoyed the book very much though and I would recommend it. I am glad I read it and it will have me thinking for months.

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