Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake - This was, in fact, my first go at reading Margaret Atwood. I’m not entirely sure why I chose this one to read first, I think I saw a glowing review for it’s sequel on tumblr and decide that, well, I might as well start here. And, yes that was a pretty good decision as this book floored me.Like, I’m not even sure how to review it. Like, I’m not even entirely sure what happened. But it was amazing. It was also incredibly unsettling. The book dumps you in the beginning in a bleak landscape and the character of Snowman. The only human left, Snowman is basically alone except for the Children of Crake - who are portrayed as eery almost animalistic people. Through a series of flash back like chapters, the picture is painted of a world in which progress has, well, progressed as it would and the rich and the well off live in the Compounds and the poor and the masses live in the cities - the pleeblands as it were. Jimmy - known as Snowman in the ‘present’ - is a child living in the Compounds, whose father works for a company working on, well, extravagant processes involving pigs with human organs and other things too technical for me to sum up in an understandable manner. Jimmy grows up in this controlled and clean environment but there’s always something off. In the present narrative, there’s always something about two people that he knew - Oryx and Crake - and through a long process of weaving in backstory with the current events, we are given the story of how the world became the desolate nightmare, and how Jimmy survived when basically no one else did and who the Children of the Crake are. The book is unsettling because it’s dangerously close to the world as it is. Like, it’s a legitimate path that the world could take. Of course, that is the nature of science fiction, and this is definitely that. This world is so bleak, though, the characters live these lives that feel so meaningless. Jimmy and Crake live essentially the best lives that the world can offer and yet their lives are sad and meaningless. Oryx lives the traumatising life of a child sold into sex trafficking and yet she remains totally detached from the world - probably as a result of it. In reality, I never cared much for Jimmy, he was just the vessel that the story was told through.In reality, Crake was my favourite character. Jimmy’s best friend growing up and a complete genius. He was also pretty much crazy. I mean, maybe he was the main character, it’s definitely something that could be speculated with in this kind of book. Because, Jimmy wasn’t a character anyone would really love. He didn’t have any real good qualities to him that you would grow attached to. He was a narrative vessel, but a pretty damn good one. Crake was an enigmatic character and you always knew that he was important, not just because the present narrative was always hinting at his importance as the past narrative caught up. He was just so interesting because his ideas were so ingenious and yet terrible and led to so many terrible things. Oryx was the same kind of character as Crake. Her story unfolded as the past narrative caught up. And she basically remained a mystery throughout the entire story. You got what Jimmy thought her life story was - born in some far off country and sold into the sex industry - eventually her story intertwines with Jimmy’s but in a way that … almost is too implausible to be true. And yet there it is. I’ve never seen it done before in which the character’s backstory and story are laid out right in front of the reader, and yet she still remains a complete and total mystery. I just, this is one of those books that you have to experience for yourself, I guess. Because the plot is too complex for me to explain and feel like I did it justice. It just needs to be read. I mean, in no way is it an uplifting story. No, actually it was incredibly disturbing and completely unsettling. But, it was also amazing. The way the narrative weaves itself together was basically brilliant. I have a bunch of Margaret Atwood’s books lined up to read this summer, and this was definitely a good place to start.