Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oryx and Crake review

Spoilers maybe?

It's the future, and humanity has basically disappeared.

The only one left – to his own knowledge – is a man calling himself Snowman, who was once known as Jimmy. Snowman has the care of what he calls Crake's Children: a group of near-humans who were created by the aforementioned Crake, before humanity lost its battle for survival.

Snowman isn't exactly happy to have the charge of the Children. Back when he was just Jimmy, he was friends with Crake, and blames himself partly for not seeing what was coming in time to stop it. He's also punishing himself for what happened to Oryx – the female corner of their triangle. Oryx is in love with Crake, and Jimmy is in love with Oryx.

Oryx has the kind of terrible, exploited childhood that would make anyone feel bad or sorry for her, and Jimmy takes on that role eagerly; wanting to find a way to "fix" her – except Oryx – who is a wonderfully self-contained character – doesn't appear to want to be fixed, which frustrates Jimmy.

Oryx and Crake is a powerful story about the somewhat casually destructive nature of the human race, and the possibly terrifying consequences of that destruction. It's also about consumerism and how – in this future – everything is a commodity and up for sale – until it isn't.

Snowman doesn't really have any outstanding qualities – he's (understandably) permanently sour, he doesn't like the fact that Crake left him in charge of his creations, and he knows that he has to do something drastic, or he's going to starve to death under the Childrens' benevolent indifference. He's sort of an everyman, and since he's the only man – apart from Crake's Children – then he kind of has carte blanche to act however he likes.

The fact that he sticks with the Children and acts reasonably decent to them (overall) shows that there's a little bit of Jimmy left inside the leftover human that Snowman has become.

I've read Oryx and Crake before, and it's just as powerful the second time around. Maybe more so, because I had forgotten so much of it.

It's also interesting re-reading it after reading The Year of the Flood, which is the companion novel. Oryx and Crake is all from Snowman's point of view, so we only have his narrative for what happened, whereas Year of the Flood tells the story from multiple points of view and broadens the spectrum, if you like.

Now, of course, Year of the Flood is back on my TBR. It's somewhere near the bottom for now, but it's on there ...

9/10 So good, you'd take it to meet your Mum


Anonymous said...

Nice review, Maree! I loved this book, too. I read it only once, a few years ago, and read The Year of the Flood more recently.

They are great books (Oryx & Crake probably the better of the two) that describe a possible future. Leeswammes (Judith)

Anonymous said...

Your blog is different! Am I crazy? Have I just been away too long in my big move? Your blog looks totally different. I like it!

Maree said...

Lee: I read The Year of the Flood ... earlier this year, I think? They are great books :)
Jenny: Lol it's different. I gave it a makeover - thank you :)

Unknown said...

Great review. I really enjoyed Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale but have with her Alias Grace and THe Blind Assassin. After your review though I may have to give Oryx and Crake a go.

Maree said...

Kylie: I loved The Handmaid's Tale, but found The Blind Assassin a difficult read, and I ended up reading it twice before I really enjoyed it. Oryx and Crake is fantastic, though