Wow and wow. This is a fantastic book.
It's hard to summarize Oryx and Crake. So, I'm going to cheat and use the synopsis on the back of the book: "Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beutiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey - with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake - through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride."
Oryx and Crake is much less a love story than it is a glimpse into a very realistic world that, unfortunately, doesn't seem so distant. While the world Atwood portrays is completely realistic it is, at the same time, so far beyond anything I could ever dream up. Not only is Atwood a fantastic writer, she is also a very imaginative story teller.
This book takes a little while to pick up. It is the first book in the MadAddam Trilogy, so Atwood has to lay the groundwork for the following novels (the second of which has been published and I will be purchasing immediately, The Year of the Flood). So, if you do pick this up I beg you to give it a chance. We are talking at least 200 pages. Trust me, it's very worth it.
For me, this was one of those rare books that both challenges and changes the way I look at society and the inner workings of the world. Atwood exaggerates our post-modern society, removing standard ideals and values, and shows us what the human race is capable of at it's very worst. My description makes the book sound utterly depressing but I promise you it's not. While Atwood destroys the human race, she creates the Children of Crake; creatures so innocent and endearing in their own way, creatures made without the destructive forces of humanity, the reader can't help but become intrigued. There are also glimpses of hope and kindness, passages that made me smile:
"They understood about dreaming. He knew that: they dreamed themselves. Crake hadn't been able to eliminate dreams. We're hard-wired for dreams, he'd said. He couldn't get rid of the singing either. We're hard-wired for singing. Singing and dreams were intertwined.Like The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood creates a world that is so detailed and unique, completely bizarre yet completely realistic. It's a complex novel that left me thinking long after I put it down. Ultimately, this book makes you think in a way that you may not have before and for me, those are the best kind of books. I can't wait to start The Year of the Flood.
Publisher: Anchor Books, a division of Random House, 2003