Oryx and Crake
By Margaret Atwood
Completed July 17, 2008
In Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood took her readers on another dystopian journey, but unlike her The Handmaid’s Tale, this book failed to captivate me as a reader.
Oryx and Crake is the story of Snowman, formally called Jimmy, who was living as the last homo sapien on a beachfront filled with genetically mixed animals and genetically created humans. Through flashbacks, we learned about Jimmy’s childhood - how his father worked at a genetics lab, how Jimmy met Glenn (later called Crake) and how the mysterious Oryx entered both boys’ lives.
Glenn/Crake would evolve into a “mad” scientist, of sorts, making a virus that would kill all humans (except Jimmy), and creating a new species of peaceful, plant-eating humans who only bred during certain seasons. Crake tasked Jimmy with being a guardian of his new species, which Jimmy reluctantly did.
Oryx was an interesting character though I didn’t learn a lot about her. She may have been a subject in a child pornography video that Jimmy and Crake watched as teenagers. Crake eventually hired Oryx for sexual favors, and Jimmy became Oryx’s lover. She flitted in and out of the chapters like a little bird. As a reader, I could never get a hold of her.
Oryx and Crake is rich in social commentary and satire. It’s an alternate but futuristic viewpoint on what may happen if we alter the genetic make-ups of humans and animals. It’s also a story of control and love. While I usually enjoy reading Atwood stories and dystopian tales, my lack of character attachment and disinterest in the story’s scientific elements made the entire novel dull to me. Usually, good dystopian fiction are stories of survival or warning signs of what could happen. For me, Oryx and Crake had neither trait. In all, it was more fiction than science.