by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake
Doubleday, May, 2003.
Hardcover, 376 pages.
Oryx and Crake begins with a man called Snowman sleeping in a tree. He is likely to be the last adult left on planet Earth. Snowman reflects on his past as we learn what has led up to Snowman and mankind's plight. Today, Snowman's world is a lonely one, populated with genetically engineered creatures created by man (like pigoons and wolvoons) and perfect human-like green-eyed children (called the Children of Crake) that stare in wonder and amusement at Snowman. Snowman takes us back into his life as a young adolescent -- back to the days when there were still plenty of human beings -- as he journeys to the source of mankind's destruction -- Crake's biolab.
Many of the happenings in Margaret Atwood's latest novel can be found in today's surreal headlines. From genetic engineering in animals to new deadly disease outbreaks, today's world mirrors the future world that is so well-thought out and presented in Oryx and Crake. Search for genetic engineering in a search engine and the results will show you experiments on pigs and rats using human DNA and organs, fish made to change colors to be more attractive to pet owners and a slew of other animal engineering experiments. Atwood takes today's experiments and extrapolates them to the point where mankind is creating its own new animals and science-based corporations that run entire towns become commonplace. Atwood's tale is made all the more believable by her intense characters, Jimmy (the young Snowman), Crake (an unstable genius) and Oryx, the beautiful underaged porn star Jimmy and Crake meet online. Atwood tell us the story of civilization's downfall through the eyes of these three characters, beginning with their adolescence. As in literary novelist Atwood's other work of science fiction, The Handmaid's Tale, mankind faces a dark, depressing and unforgiving future in Oryx and Crake. This is a powerful, compelling cautionary tale.
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This review was published in the September-October, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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