Sunday, January 19, 2014

“Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood – Answers from the Apocalypse

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – book cover
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood is the first part of a three-book trilogy, taking place in a world that has been defiled and destroyed by an unimaginably powerful plague. Though much is unknown about the whole incident, one thing is certain: once corporations took over genetic engineering, nothing was the same anymore, and humanity took a turn on doom road.

As far as Snowman (formerly known as Jimmy) is concerned, with the loss of best friend Crake and the elusive Oryx, he is the last man left on Earth… though it does not mean he has no allies. Before his demise, Crake had engineered a new species of beings which resemble humans: the Crakers. They stick by Snowman’s side as he decides to embark on a perilous journey through the desolated world in search of answers to questions he doesn’t even know about.

To start things off, I have to say that in comparison to some of other works by Atwood, this one falls a bit short of her full potential in terms of language manipulation; technically speaking, while it remains a very solid work it is not her most successful effort. Nevertheless, the flow of the language, the depth at which she delves into her characters, the narrative structure, the overall style and form used fit the story told here very well, succeeding at conveying many feelings and sensations hard to capture properly, such as internal emptiness, the void, hope, curiosity…etc…etc… It also has for effect of making this text lighter and easier to follow, something I believe to be beneficial when heavy themes are explored.

What really sets this book apart from the crowd though, is the universe that Atwood gave birth to. We have already seen countless dystopian and post-apocalyptic depictions of the future that quite frankly, they are all starting to sound rather generic. In this one, Atwood breathes some fresh air into it, mixing images of death and desolation with life and lush wilderness, the failures and successes of the past, as well a tiny glimmer of hope for the future. The amount of details in this work truly make the world come alive, making it feel as if you are the one undertaking this journey.

All in all, Oryx and Crake is a fantastic start to a science-fiction trilogy, being written with great proficiency and gifting us with an original universe that also remains somewhat familiar and recognizable. I recommend the book to any science fiction and post-apocalyptic world fans, especially those who like their literature to be a bit slower and more concentrated on thoughts and ideas rather than actions.


Margaret Eleanor Atwood (November 18, 1939)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood


Margaret Atwood is an essayist, poet, novelist, literary critic and environmental activist hailing from Canada. She is a recipient of the Arthur C. Clarke and Prince of Asturias Awards, with some of her most famous works including The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye.

More of the Margaret Atwood's book reviews:
The Year of the Flood
MaddAddam

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