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Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 1) Kindle Edition
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“Atwood has long since established herself as one of the best writers in English today, but Oryx and Crake may well be her best work yet. . . . Brilliant, provocative, sumptuous and downright terrifying.” —The Baltimore Sun
“Her shuddering post-apocalyptic vision of the world . . . summons up echoes of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess and Aldous Huxley. . . . Oryx and Crake [is] in the forefront of visionary fiction.” —The Seattle Times
“A book too marvelous to miss.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Majestic. . . . Keeps us on the edges of our seats.” —The Washington Post
“A compelling futuristic vision. . . . Oryx and Crake carries itself with a refreshing lightness. . . . Its shrewd pacing neatly balances action and exposition. . . . What gives the book a deeper resonance is its humanity.” –Newsday
“[A] stunning new novel–possibly her best since The Handmaid’s Tale.” –Time Out New York
“A delightful amalgam for the sophisticated reader: her perfectly placed prose, poetic language and tongue-in-cheek tone are ubiquitous throughout, as if an enchanted nanny is telling one a dark bedtime story of alienation and ruin while lovingly stroking one’s head.” –Ms.
“Truly remarkable. . . . As fun as it is dark. . . . A feast of realism, science fiction, satire, elegy and then some. . . . Atwood has concocted here an all-too-possible vision. . . . [She is] a master.” –The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)
“A roll of dry, black, parodic laughter. . . . One of the year’s most surprising novels.” –The Economist
While the story begins with a rather ponderous set-up of what has become a clichéd landscape of the human endgame, littered with smashed computers and abandoned buildings, it takes on life when Snowman recalls his boyhood meeting with his best friend Crake: "Crake had a thing about him even then.... He generated awe ... in his dark laconic clothing." A dangerous genius, Crake is the book's most intriguing character. Crake and Jimmy live with all the other smart, rich people in the Compounds--gated company towns owned by biotech corporations. (Ordinary folks are kept outside the gates in the chaotic "pleeblands.") Meanwhile, beautiful Oryx, raised as a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, finds her way to the West and meets Crake and Jimmy, setting up an inevitable love triangle. Eventually Crake's experiments in bioengineering cause humanity's shockingly quick demise (with uncanny echoes of SARS, ebola, and mad cow disease), leaving Snowman to try to pick up the pieces. There are a few speed bumps along the way, including some clunky dialogue and heavy-handed symbols such as Snowman's broken watch, but once the bleak narrative gets moving, as Snowman sets out in search of the laboratory that seeded the world's destruction, it clips along at a good pace, with a healthy dose of wry humor. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B000FC1BNI
- Publisher : Anchor; Reprint edition (March 30, 2004)
- Publication date : March 30, 2004
- Language : English
- File size : 2402 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 400 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0385721676
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #28,987 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The story centers around Jimmy, also called Snowman, assumed to be the lone survivor of a plague that destroyed humanity. His companions are Crakers: a society of unworldly humanoid experiments designed to eliminate the perceived flaws of normal homo sapiens. The Crakers see Snowman as a relic and link to the "before" times as well as their source of knowledge about their creator, Crake. Jimmy has given the Crakers an origin story, that while false, is something he feels they can mentally grasp. The enigmatic Oryx is the novel's most interesting character primarily because she is so difficult to understand. She is the love interest to both Jimmy (Snowman) and Crake.
Atwood, an avid environmentalist, creates a believable world where climate change accelerates with cataclysmic consequences; changing the nature of agriculture and livestock production, flooding major cities and changing the weather. To compensate, society evolves into a two-tiered structure where scientists and thought-workers segregate themselves into highly secure compounds while the remainder of humanity fend for themselves in decaying, crime-ridden "plebelands". The scientists, working for global corporations, create increasingly bizarre animal and plant hybrids for food in addition to rejuvenation products that increase lifespan and beauty for those who can afford them.
The novel is, overall, an excellent one and well worth the read. The characters are well-developed and fascinating though almost uniformly difficult to like. Many elements of the story are gut-wrenchingly plausible and Atwood masterfully manages to ruin your sleep at night. One leaves the tale of Oryx and Crake with little hope for the future of humanity. Too many genies, it seems, are already out of the bottle.
It's possible to nitpick some of the story's futuristic elements. For example, published in 2003, it's difficult to see how Atwood couldn't see the coming of smart phones and electronic documents. Jimmy, searching for a job, is somehow snail mailing his paper resume to prospective employers. And another nit, as a former marketer, I found nearly all of the product names things that would have been mercilessly ridiculed at any ad meeting. Atwood seems in love with cheesy rhymes and putting "oo" in everything (Anooyoo, Soy Oh-Boy, pigoons).
Still, world-building is hard, and you have to cut the author some slack. After all, we let Suzanne Collins get away with never explaining how and why the Hunger Games world is like that. Whether or not you will like Oryx and Crake really depends on your feelings about apocalyptic fiction. I tend to rate this type of fiction on whether the author made me think and creeped me out. This novel will definitely do both of those things.
"He compiled lists of old words too - words of a precision and suggestiveness that no longer had a meaningful application in today's world...He memorized these hoary locutions, tossed them left-handed into conversations: wheelwright, lodestone saturnine, adamant. He'd developed a strangely tender feeling towards such words, as if they were children abandoned in the woods and it was his duty to rescue them."
This love of the lost and abandoned is, however, not limited to words but also the dispossessed people inhabiting Atwood's world. It is most forcibly projected upon the character of Oryx, a woman so commoditized by the world that she doesn't know her nationality or mother tongue anymore. She has spent her life since childhood as a sex toy for Western consumption.
Atwood creates her own version of Pasolini's "Salo" in Oryx' journey through life, one just as bitter and unavoidable as the Italian auteur's. Margaret brings viscerally to life the child bordellos of Thailand, the Italian countryside littered with Nigerian prostitutes, the smorgasbord of Dubai whorehouses, the pervasive presence of Eastern European mail-order brides in Western countries, the ubiquitous availability of pornography just a touch away on our computing devices, and the slave trade that drives all of this global commerce. And yet, this is also a story about a quest for love in a world reduced to filth and return on investment.
Truly a novel of action, entertainment, and human pathos capable of joy and horror, ennui and redemption, and worthy of both SF and literary acclaim. Have at it!
Top reviews from other countries
Oryx and Crake reads like an alien play set in world of ecological and human devastation where the results of scientific experiments threaten survivors. It is the most abstract book of the trilogy. When I first read it, Margaret Atwood was still working on the second and final parts. I remember not being able to wait until I could follow up on this strange, cruel story. We don't know much about the world in this book, other than it has become hostile and frightening but right from the start we do identify and care for Snowman, the main character and the human condition he portrays. It's one version of our future and I itched to know how we got there. If you like science fiction and can suspend your need to have a full explanation as to why each thing happens, do read this book. The issues Margaret Atwood raises are significant and relevant to our lives today - some you'll find more difficult to accept than others but Atwood's writing is so seductive, she can challenge us and make us think about what is happening in society whilst immersing us into an absorbing fictional world
I love the way that the novel flit's back and forth in time, threading the whole story together from both ends. The characters are great and well written - it centers around Jimmy/Snowman, but all other characters are well explored and tyou get a real feeling for how & why they end up as/where they do. The descriptions of the future presented here are disturbing, but also it is easy to see how you could get to there from here. This is presented as a credible near-future vision, which makes it all the more scary.
So, I liked it very much and I recommend it. I will add that this is the first of a trilogy and I have to say that the second book MaddAddam did not grab me quite as much, but worth giving a go also if you want to continue the story (albeit via a different set of characters).
However as with Angela Carter I have a problem relaxing with the book and loving its voice as the style is a knotted rope of nouns that makes me feel like I am reading German and TV advertising or worse: a German TV advert! It is noun after noun, with phonetic catchiness ("Rejoovenate" etc) which to a European other language native speaker looks like an ugly barrier but also like computer programming code. Sci FI used to be beautifully written and have longer - deeper-meaning bearer- sentences but since the US TV communication mode took over all forms of oral communication in English speaking countries, most sci fi and dystopian futuristic novels are written like a script skeleton, like a bare structure for a literary writer to re write. I am aware that after reading Primo Levi, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Rimbaud and Alain Fournier and also the great Rene Barjavel, contemporary English -language sci FI or fantasy literature looks brutally or economically written when in fact Atwood has as much talent as all these writers, it is just the literary standards of the market that dictate this (to me, dry and short) style.
Our reader-friendly narrator is the jokily self-depreciative Snowman - Jimmy in a former life. Jimmy's remorseful and backward-directed eyes, unstable emotions, and scatological humour guide us through the disquieting genesis of the catastrophe. Sleeping in a tree to avoid predation, he is far from happy to find himself one of a handful of survivors. Devastated by guilt, resentful of what new role might be expected of him in this brave new world of scarcity and danger, he gazes angrily at the drowned skyscrapers of a former great American city in the bay opposite his roost, haunted by what part he himself might have played in the catastrophe and pining for the happiness he has lost.
The Oryx and Crake of the title were his best, and most formative, friends dating back, at least in the case of Crake, to the world of his adolescence. But as the narrative unwinds we discover that this world was already morally bankrupt. Walled-off and guarded compounds accommodated the super-rich, isolating them from the semi-feral "pleeb-lands" beyond. Wealth, and social status, was centred on profit-driven genetic engineering of animals, and even humans, for sundry disreputable purposes including body parts. In Snowman's sceptical, oft-times parodic, memories of his childhood, schooling and dysfunctional family, we witness a world already hurtling down the slippery slope. His mother, herself a scientist working in genetic engineering, abandons him during a conscience-driven breakdown. Little in the way of direct explanation is offered in the narrative so we are obliged to interpret her motivations and actions through her baffled and less than devoted son. We also witness, through the wonderfully scatter-brained and sex-addicted adolescent male ruminations of Jimmy, the inanely stupid potentials of genetic engineering in a world devoid of moral compass. The hugely altered pigoons (transgenic pigs), the threatening wolfogs, and the people-friendly rakunks ( hybrids of raccoons and skunks), typify the brainless experimentation and greedy exploitation.
Atwood employs a formidable arsenal of literary skills to enliven her narrative, including crystal clear language, cutting edge street talk, the spiritual leprosy of internet pornography, arresting neologisms, and, as with Snowman, a relentless, desperately ironic viewpoint. Indeed, with Jimmy/Snowman she may have created one of the noteworthy characters of modern literature.
The rise to self-assertive pragmatism of the delightful and mysterious and quintessentially oriental Oryx from the vilest degradation to pragmatic human being is the second great characterisation. Of the key characters in the book, I have to admit that she is the one I would most like to share a conversation with over a bacon sandwich and glass or three of Cognac.
While dystopia and apocalypse is hardly novel as a theme, this is a disturbing, highly original and yet still highly entertaining foray into that seductive darkness. One senses, and identifies with both the anger and challenging spirit that drives the novel.
Sent from an internet café in the Canaries October 29 2013