Oryx and Crake

Last year a close friend suggested I read Margaret Atwood’s “ The Handmaids Tale”. You won’t find a review for that on here.  As much as I loved it I know that fans of the book are fairly diehard and critiquing it in anyway would be about as dangerous as walking into a Harry Potter convention wearing a Twilight shirt. What I loved most about the book though was the voice. Every narrator has a voice and Offred’s was perhaps one of the best I’ve come across. It was so easy to listen to her, empathise with her, cry with her and finally celebrate her freedom. I wanted to see if this was a one off or if Atwood had managed to create similar voices in her other works. When I went on Holiday with my family I decided that there would be a Margaret Atwood in my monster pile of books and that Atwood was  “Oryx and Crake”.

The premise of the book is brilliant. Much like Handmaid we find ourselves in a dystopian future. Where Oryx steps away is the fact that this is a totally new world. The only human we know off is Jimmy aka Snowman. There are other people but they seem different and have no knowledge of the time before. Only Jimmy does. Through the use of flashbacks we find out what has happened to the world and why the new humans worship deity’s named after the title characters.

That’s about as much as I’m going to give away. I don’t want to spoil this for people as I really think it should be read. Handmaid was not a fluke. Jimmy is a fantastic narrator and even though the life he lives ( even as a boy ) is so different to our own he still makes everything relevant. His need for attention is endearing rather than annoying and each bad decision he makes had me hoping more and more for something to go right.

Crake himself is a great villain. Well, if you can call him a villain. He’s certainly no hero but at no point did I hate him. Highly intelligent, emotionally stunted and fiercely opinionated on what’s wrong with the world. If anything he could be compared to a slightly delusional Robert Oppenheimer.

My one key issue with the book was Oryx. As a title Character and someone who has supposed to have had a colossal impact on Jimmy’s life I felt that there was very little done to develop her. We hear her stories of childhood and the abuse she suffered but knowing little of her character; it’s difficult to become emotionally attached. The Romance, when it happens, seems rushed and unexplained. We know how Jimmy feels about her but there’s no passion at all to their first true encounter.

Leaving Oryx aside it’s still a fantastic read. Any fans of Aldous Huxley, Suzanne Collins, Minority report or any of the myriad of Dystopian fiction that is available will enjoy this. Only yesterday I found out that there are two more novels and I can’t wait to get stuck in.


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