I've been meaning to grab this series for quite some time — the combination of Atwood's evocative prose and a post-apocalyptic setting is a highly promising one. Oryx and Crake tells the story of an altered world through the eyes of a man once known as Jimmy. Now known as Snowman and clothed in deteriorated bedsheets, his only companions are the green-eyed, blue-skinned "Children of Crake" and the the voice of his one true love Oryx, haunting him in his head.
The book grabs you right away with the plight of Snowman, living in a tree, burned by the harsh sun and slowly starving with the meagre food he can gather, he's in a sorry state. His mind also appears to have been addled from lack of food and heat, not to mention the loneliness. It seems that he may be the last human on Earth — sharing a strange relationship with the genetically altered people known as the Children of Crake. These people see him as a messenger of their "creator" and revere him as almost like a priest of their god. Snowman feels responsible for these almost-humans, not least because he founded their religion, but also because of his person connection with their creator.
It is a world that has suffered from a global pandemic, there has also been some gentic manipulation before this disaster with not only Crake's children but altered animals such as wolves, racoons and pigs (known respectively as pigoons, wolvogs and rakunks). It's this genetic manipulation along with the way that commercialism has reached it's natural progression with corporations holding all the power. Technology such as the internet, genetic engineering and GM food have also been taken a few steps down our current road. Given all this human manipulation of the natural it's little suprise that the world seems to have rid itself of the human infestation.
The story describes Snowman's plight in the present along with flashbacks to his past when he was known as Jimmy, before the apocalypse. Atwood makesc use of this dual narrative structure perfectly and its impossible not to get drawn in to find out what could have caused all these changes. It's the relationship that Jimmy has with Crake and Oryx that forms the bones of the novel and it is distinctly Jimmy's perspective of these relationships complete with some possibly unreliable narration.
Characterisation is superb, Jimmy, Oryx and Crake are all entirely convincing characters and it really does make you wonder what their stories are from a perspective different than Jimmy's. The fate of the world is also worryingly convincing and only a small step from where we are now.
Oryx and Crake is a superb book, genuinely moving and thought-provoking fiction from one of the finest minds writing today.
Written on 13th November 2015 by Ant.
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