oryx and crake

The second audiobook I had on my road trip to Wisconsin a couple weeks ago was Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I read The Handmaid’s Tale a few years ago, so this is my second book of Atwood’s (although I have The Blind Assassin boxed up, I’ll have to read that at some point after my move, too!) From Goodreads:

In Oryx and Crake, a science fiction novel that is more Swift than Heinlein, more cautionary tale than “fictional science” (no flying cars here), Margaret Atwood depicts a near-future world that turns from the merely horrible to the horrific, from a fool’s paradise to a bio-wasteland. Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy) sleeps in a tree and just might be the only human left on our devastated planet. He is not entirely alone, however, as he considers himself the shepherd of a group of experimental, human-like creatures called the Children of Crake. As he scavenges and tends to his insect bites, Snowman recalls in flashbacks how the world fell apart.

One word: WOW. I loved this book. Oryx and Crake is a disturbing vision of a dystopian future, in which gene-spliced hybrid animals are created for various reasons to make human life “better,” sort of the way processed food stuffs and electronic devices are regarded now. Pigoons, designed to host back-up organs for human harvest? Wolvogs? It was really easy to picture these creatures.

There are so many social and cultural issues touched on or brought up in this book and lots of ethical questions, from economic class to global warming to genetic engineering and biotechnology to pharmaceuticals and health epidemics, ecological disasters, corporate conglomeration, and so on. As I listened, I wondered, “they can do all these experiments, but should they?” Great for philosophical debate.

At the heart of Oryx and Crake is the love triangle, though. Jimmy meets the dark science genius Crake in high school. Formerly a child prostitute from Southeast Asia, Oryx is sold to a man in San Francisco and from there eventually leaves the sex trade and meets Jimmy and Crake later on. Oryx works for Crake, but secretly gets it on with Jimmy. Duh-RAMA!

But despite the love triangle and some dry humor, Oryx and Crake is some seriously dark sci-fi. The version I listened to was unabridged, read by Campbell Scott. I thought Scott did an excellent job; his narration had a creepy edge and he captured the frustration of Snowman, obliviousness of Oryx, and the innocence of the Crakers very well, even changing the voice inflections for them, too. But Oryx and Crake, as much as I loved the audio, is one that I will definitely get on paper and re-read someday. I seem to only be able to listen to audiobooks on long drives, and I’m sure I missed some things!

*Note: In the past I have said more than once I’m not into series books… and would you look at that, I inadvertently got myself hooked into one. The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam are now on my TBR!

Oryx and Crake was my selection for “dystopian” on the 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae at book’d out, and my eighth read of twelve books total for the challenge.

Listened to audiobook from July 16 to 17, 2013.

2 thoughts on “oryx and crake

    • No problem! This was probably my favorite book from the challenge, and one of my favorites for the year. I only wish I had been able to keep up with this challenge and the TBR Pile one better—having to move twice this year really threw a wrench in my reading groove, haven’t been fully able to recover yet :-/

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