Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

: 2003

Genre: science fiction

Length: 383 pages

Setting: near future Earth

Interest: When I was looking for a book for book club, this book was a possibility. I had to check it out before I could recommend it for book club.

Summary: The story is split between two timelines. Currently, Snowman (previously known as Jimmy) is living in the woods, trying to survive and telling stories to the Children of Crake (a bunch of genetically engineered humans designed to remove all of our current imperfections). We also see flashbacks of his life before the viral apocalypse that killed off nearly everyone but him and the Crakers. He lived in a Compound and befriended a genius who called himself Crake. Crake goes on to an impressive career as a gene splicer, ultimately creating his “improved” people, while Jimmy’s career stagnates. Crake eventually hires Jimmy to work PR and it is there that he meets Oryx, the love of his life that he’s only ever seen on the ‘net. Ultimately, Crake develops and distributes a Superbug that kills nearly everyone, leaving Jimmy alone with the Crakers.

Final thoughts: Interesting book, although not as moving as Handmaid’s Tale. I decided it wouldn’t work for book club. It’s not as mainstream as Handmaid’s Tale (that I went with) and might have thrown some people off if they weren’t used to speculative fiction. The modifications Crake made to the Crakers were interesting. They could photosynthesize and the women’s bottoms turned blue when they came into heat (among other changes). The glimpses of the future world, with genetic modifications being so common and the Compounds and Corporations controlling everyone was fascinating and makes me want to read more.

Oryx_gazella_PICT1415 crakeTitle comes from: Two of the main characters were named Oryx and Crake, after extinct animals. While I knew and oryx is a type of antelope, I didn’t know a crake was a type of bird. Interestingly, we saw one those birds at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None, since this is a review from a book read in a previous year.

If you’re interested in buying this book, click on the image to follow an Amazon affiliates link and thanks!


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