Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood

Buy the book here.


Plot: Snowman, a lone survivor of a human extinction event struggles to survive while reminiscing on how it all came to be. He is in charge of caring for a group of genetically-altered humanoids called "the Children of Crake."

     Fantastic! This is the first book I have read by Margaret Atwood, and I can't wait to read more. Oryx and Crake is a deftly handled cross between the Adam & Eve story, a post-apocalyptic horrorland, Orwellian distopia, conspiracy theory, and memoir. The ending leaves the reader wanting more from this fantastic yet all-too-familiar world, and fortunately Atwood has delivered with a sequel, The Year of the Flood.
     Characterization is handled amazingly well, considering what she gave herself to work with. Without giving much away, I will mention that one character is a pure-science genius asshole, another refuses to say a bad thing about anyone, ever, there are environmentalist fanatics, a father who routinely forgets his son's birthday, and the main character is highly unsympathetic as well. But for all that, and likely because of all that, it remains very believable. The reader finds him/herself relating to Snowman/Jimmy's basic selfish, ugly humanity.
     The most chilling part of the story, for me at least, are the pigoons. Pigoons are pigs that were genetically engineered to grow human organs. Encountering them in a laboratory setting was unnerving enough for me, but then I have a slight fear of pigs (thank you, Lord of the Flies). When Snowman crosses paths with them in the wild, things get zombie-like quickly, but pigoons are smart and fast, so it's worse.
     You absolutely must read this book.