Friday, April 18, 2014

Oryx & Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1)

Oryx & Crake
(MaddAddam Trilogy #1)

Margaret Atwood

Published 2003

First Sentence
"Snowman wakes before dawn."
Publisher's Description:

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 beautiful 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. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

Dear Reader,

I loved this book. I stayed up way too late every night reading this book. Lack of sleep didn't stop me from picking up the second book The Year of the Flood the same night I finished Oryx & Crake. Not many books can keep me up like that, let alone wanting me to pick up the sequel directly after. Usually, I'm the type of person that likes to let it digest and even wait a few months to pick up the second book (if at all). Books with series (3 or more) get me anxious (mostly because of the invested time required), I find that I don't usually finish a complete series unless the book rates 4 stars or higher for me. There is just too many books and too little time! 

Let me rewind a bit though, I haven't even told you anything about the book yet. Meet Snowman (a.k.a Jimmy), a self absorbed and somewhat dis-likable character who somehow survives this crazy Apocalypse. No, I didn't give anything away that wasn't already given to you by the books description. There are quite a bit of plot twists and surprises and I promise I won't divulge any of those delectable secrets. Atwood brings us back and forward through time using Snowman/Jimmy's eyes. Through Jimmy, we see as he reflects back upon everything that has happened and we meet all the characters that play the part from his perspective. Everything he goes through plays a small part of the impending changes of the future. Since I don't want to give anything away, I think I'll leave it at that. 

I like the genre "speculative fiction" and this novel fits perfectly under that category. I really wish I had read this when it came out in 2003. Atwood has taken some scary ideas (most of them could very likely be true) and given us a novel that could very well be the next 1984. I predict that this novel will be looked back upon as a reference for future generations, almost like a warning that wasn't heard (hopefully I'm wrong about this). Wasn't that the same feeling Orwell's 1984 gave us? I obviously wasn't alive when 1984 was published, so I can't say personally but the book has that stigma of predicting the future. 

Some of the creepy things we come across in Oryx & Crake include, animal splicing (the Rakunk which is a combination of raccoon and skunk), genetic alterations (chemically injecting food so it won't rot or attract bugs), voyeuristic programming (watching the most taboo of topics on the internet and becoming desensitized by it, like kiddie porn and suicide). Does any of this sound familiar? Atwood definitely gets her inspiration from our own technological advances, she brings the current inventions to a new scary futuristic level. This is a world that you can imagine, a world that could be our future... now THAT is scary!

SPOILER!!! Don't Read Below This If You Haven't Read The Book ... (ALSO contains Battlestar Galactica Spoilers, if you've never seen or finished that show *and SHAME on you if you haven't seen the show!!*)

I just wanted to talk about the main theme of the book, the Apocalypse. I think what I loved about this book reminded me why I loved Battlestar Galactica so much. Both give us a decaying world filled with crime, overuse of technology, morals gone wrong and pretty much complete disrespect of the land we call home (again, doesn't this sound a bit too familiar!) Also, both BSG and Oryx & Crake reset the world, taking away everything that was destroying it (including the mass population). Neither this book or the show gives us the aftermath but one can only imagine how the world will be rebuilt with the remaining survivors. BSG went one step further pushing the idea that humanity will just make the same mistakes over and over again. To quote from the show "All of this has happened before and will happen again"

I think the idea of resetting and starting anew, making the survivors live with the earth and nothing else, is SO fascinating. I've often thought of what we would do without all the technology we have, would we be able to survive? Would we be able to reset our own way of thinking and go back to scavenging for food and shelter? I actually think it would be kind of wonderful to get a second chance, but I think the same problems would arrive and like BSG showed us... humanity would be in an endless loop, making the same mistakes over and over again. 

SPOILER DONE!!! I have nothing else to say but READ this book. 


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