Even as a big Atwood fan, I really don't get where all the praise for "Oryx and Crake" is coming from. I read it was was rather underwhelmed.
The characters are one-dimensional and so is the dialogue. I loved some of the set pieces and imagery, but the dystopian world Atwood creates is generic and hampered by cartoonishly-corrupt corporations and goofy, mutatated abominations that are an insult to the intelligence anyone who has taken even a highschool biology course. We get bizarrely-named gimicks like "CorpSeCorps", "SoYummie", "Rakunk", and "Pigoon" instead of anything believable. Listening to Atwood talk about the Internet, something she clearly knows very little about, is almost painful.
Nothing about this book is fresh to the science fiction genre. Oh, and about that. Atwood asserts that this is "speculative fiction" and not science fiction, insisting that science fiction is about "talking squids in space" and that everything in her super-special novel is within the complete realm of possibility. That is so much bull.
What makes "Oryx and Crake" so special? Why do we see this novel next to all the mainstream stuff in the Fiction/Literature Section and not back in the obligatory Science Fiction Section where it clearly belongs?
If I had to guess, it's because the average critic or reader's interpretation of SF is along the lines of "Beam me up, Scotty". When someone like Atwood, a revered and awarded novelist, writes some stale rehash of ideas that have been facilitated in SF novels for years, it's considered great literature and everyone pretends not to notice the glaring tropes within. Meanwhile, the originals rot away next to the Star Wars noveltizations and the latest John Ringo. Such is the fate of many a great book.
And that just ain't right.