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Subject:Oryx and Crake
Time:10:49 pm
{I like to write short book reviews. I hope it's okay if I post some of them here. Hi! btw.}

Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is an excellent peace of post-apocalyptic literature in a genre filled with little gems such as Alas, Babylon, The Stand, and On the Beach. In my opinion, this book is quite superior in many ways.

The story concerns Snowman, the seemingly last surviving human in the world devastated not by nuclear war but by a plague. All that is left are the wild products of genetic experimentation created by the prideful humans of before: the pigoons, wolvogs, and the Crakers, a more perfect and innocent race of people. In the present, Snowman tries to be the caretaker of the Crakers and goes on journeys to gain items to help him to survive (edible food and vital items like sunscreen, flashlights, mosquito repellent). In flashbacks, we are told how Snowman, once known as Jimmy, came to survive and how the Destruction of Mankind came about.

One of the more effective elements is the reason for Humanity's destruction. Instead of nuclear war, which was the big and very realistic fear of humanity's hubris in the 1950s, the novel focuses on genetic manipulation and the greenhouse effect (unethical misapplication of science and pollution). There are other causes as well such as humanity's desire to be ever-young, ever-goodlooking; humanity's superficiality, etc.

Another thrilling element is how Snowman seems at first to be merely narrator and hardly a player in the fate of the world until you realize that he can and has inserted himself into the action quite shockingly. I speak specifically of Jimmy's murder of Crake and his last decision to kill the last 3 real humans on the planet in the final pages. Another way he takes or is responsible for the action is the fact that as a "blurb"/propaganda writer he has influenced people to take the pills that cause the plague.

Something I found interesting and almost too subtle was the fact that Jimmy is the most emotional of the characters. As a narrator, a character often is given God-like qualities and assumes a kind of objective if mostly limited perspective. It is fascinating to see the glimpses both in report and in action of how Jimmy is the only truly deeply feeling person in the story. Especially in the final pages, when what compels him to act is the idea of protecting the Crakers, and a request to action from his mother remembered.

A final, scary aspect to the book was the idea of the Arts as dead (who needs emotion? who needs art?) and the strict segregation of people based on intelligence. This idea of specialization (and the marked lack of any real sense of ethics) leads me to the inescapable conclusion that the universities in the book had no Ethics 101 courses and foreshadow the very real danger, in my opinion, that today's world applies a drive for economic success and scientific/technological advancement independent of ethics (not the same as religion).

The writing style itself was fluid and never jerked me from its pages to the real world. The characterization of Snowman was wonderful, of Crake tantalizing. The only one that suffered was Oryx who remained too much of an enigma for her to make an impact on anyone other than Snowman himself. The world was colourfully, vividly and believably portrayed and I was caught in it for a wonderful two days.

Heartily recommended.
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mabelsthecat
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Time:2006-04-26 03:32 am (UTC)
It's absolutely alright. Welcome!

We are fairly inactive as far as this community goes, all of us being busy with school, families and so forth. Who knows? Perhaps you'll have put the spark in us to start this back up again!

Thanks for the review!
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adri27enne
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Time:2006-04-26 04:12 am (UTC)
What a great review of the book. I absolutely loved Oryx and Crake, and actually forgot what most of it was about, so this brought me right back there. I really enjoyed your analysis.

Welcome. :)
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(Anonymous)
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Time:2006-04-26 08:00 pm (UTC)
thanks! I'm happy to find a thoughtful book community.
I've got a lot of things going on too, but I love reading so I'm hoping this makes me MAKE time.
I have more reviews to come...!
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