- Series: MaddAddam Trilogy (Book 2)
- Paperback: 389 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385721676
- ISBN-13: 978-0385721677
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,188 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy) Paperback – March 30, 2004
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“Towering and intrepid. . . . Atwood does Orwell one better.” —The New Yorker
“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
“Sublime. . . . Good, solid, Swiftian science fiction from a . . . literary artist par excellence.” –The Denver Post
“Dances with energy and sophisticated gallows humor. . . . [Atwood’s] wry wit makes dystopia fun.” –People
“A crackling read. . . . Atwood is one of the most impressively ambitious writers of our time.” –The Guardian
“Gorgeously written, full of eyeball-smacking images and riveting social and scientific commentary. . . . A cunning and engrossing book by one of the great masters of the form.” –The Buffalo News
“A powerful vision. . . . Very readable.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Brilliant, impossible to put down. . . . Atwood . . . is at once commanding and enchanting. Piercingly intelligent and piquantly witty, highly imaginative and unfailingly compassionate, she is a spoonful-of-sugar storyteller, concealing the strong and necessary medicine of her stinging social commentary within the balm of dazzlingly complicated and compelling characters and intricate and involving predicaments.” –The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Original and chilling. . . . Powerful, inventive, playful and difficult to resist.” –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Brilliantly constructed. . . . Jimmy and Crake grip like characters out of Greek tragedy. . . . Atwood herself is one of our finest linguistic engineers. Her carefully calibrated sentences are formulated to hook and paralyse the reader.” –The Daily Telegraph
“Atwood does not disappoint.” –The Dallas Morning News
“Gripping. . . . Bursts with invention and mordant wit, none of which slows down its headlong pace. . . . Atwood is in sleek form. . . . [Her] prescience is unsettling.” –St. Petersburg Times
“Biting, black humor and absorbing storytelling. . . . Atwood entices.” –USA Today
“Compelling. . . . Packed with fascinating ideas. . . . Her most accessible book in years, a gripping, unadorned story.” –The Onion
“This superlatively gripping and remarkably imagined book joins The Handmaid’s Tale in the distinguished company of novels (The Time Machine, Brave New World and 1984) that look ahead to warn us about the results of human shortsightedness.” –The Times (London)
“Absorbing. . . . Atwood ahs not lost her touch for following the darker paths of speculative fiction–she easily creates a believable, contained future world.” –Seattle Weekly
“Engrossing. . . . A novel of ideas, narrated with an almost scientific dispassion and a caustic, distanced humor. The prose is fast and clean.” –Rocky Mountain News
“Riveting and thought-provoking. . . . Keen and cutting. . . . [Atwood] has grown into one of the most consistently imaginative and masterful fiction writers writing in English today.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch
From the Inside Flap
With the same stunning blend of prophecy and social satire she brought to her classic The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood gives us a keenly prescient novel about the future of humanityand its present.
Humanity here equals Snowman, and in Snowmans recollections Atwood re-creates a time much like our own, when a boy named Jimmy loved an elusive, damaged girl called Oryx and a sardonic genius called Crake. But now Snowman is alone, and as we learn why we also learn about a world that could become ours one day.
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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!