Backlist Book Review: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

oryx-and-crakeI’ve been dying to get some time to read Margaret Atwood ever since I stumbled upon a midnight screening of The Handmaid’s Tale when I was fifteen. Her dystopian future enthralled me from the beginning and I thought that any writer who dared to imagine that sort of world was definitely worth a read.

Years ago, I purchased Oryx and Crake at Borders (yes, that’s how long ago it was). Recently, I finally cracked it open and started reading as part of my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

Oryx and Crake is the first book in the Madaddam trilogy and tells the story of Snowman, also known as Jimmy. Snowman reflects on his time as Jimmy, recalling life before a plague struck. He recounts his childhood with his best friend Glenn, who he calls Crake, and the women they both loved, named Oryx. This love story is set against the frightening tale of a future where doctor-assisted suicide and executions are streamed live, animals are invented to grow replacement organs, and the test-tube baby is taken to the ultimate extreme.He recounts his childhood with his best friend Glenn, who he calls Crake, and the women they both loved, named Oryx. This love story is set against the frightening tale of a future where doctor-assisted suicide and executions are streamed live, animals are invented to grow replacement organs, and the test-tube baby is taken to the ultimate extreme. .

This love story is set against the frightening tale of a future where doctor-assisted suicide and executions are streamed live, animals are invented to grow replacement organs, and the test-tube baby is taken to the ultimate extreme. It is a future that is both familiar and unimaginable.

While he recounts his memories, Snowman goes back to where it all began to help the green-eyed “Children of Crake.”

I have to admit I am a little disappointed with it. I loved the concept and I was drawn in by the world that Atwood creates for Jimmy/Snowman, but the novel spent most of the 300-pages ebbing and flowing between ethical questions raised by Jimmy and the sullen musings of Snowman. I liked the world that Jimmy lived in a lot more and while I can see how it was told, I found myself waiting for the next kernel of information to be given to be.

I am not sure where the next two books lead, but I am going to choose not to look into them too closely. I am hopeful that any longings I may have for more information about this world will be satisfied in the later installments.

That being said, the conclusion was well worth the 300-page build up. Atwood created a satisfying ending where all the threads started to come together. The big questions of “What happened to Oryx and Crake and how did Snowman end up being the only survivor?” are answered and Atwood does leave room for the story to grow.

I am giving Oryx and Crake the benefit of the doubt. Several other reviewers have mentioned that this is the weakest in the Madaddam Trilogy so while I feel it is essential for me to understand her story I am not going to judge the other two based on this one book.

This has not turned me off to Margaret Atwood though and I look forward to reviewing The Year of the Flood in the near future.

What are your favorite Margaret Atwood novels? Leave a comment below and I may check them out in the coming weeks.

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13 thoughts on “Backlist Book Review: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

  1. Excellent review and excellent site! I like how well organized your blog is. I’m a big Atwood fan myself, I also got into her books through The Handmaid’s Tale (though I’ve never seen the movie). I’ve read all the Madaddam books and I’m looking forward to the new HBO series that is being made. Or am I? I don’t really need to SEE Chickie-nobs. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much! I try to keep this site organized as well as possible. I am excited for both the Hulu series, HBO Series, and the Netflix Series (I think Netflix has the rights to Alias Grace!) No, I don’t think we need to some of those creations but I think it will be interesting none-the-less. I am curious to how they will portray all the characters. I need to read The Year of the Flood once I get some of the books cleared off my shelf.

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