Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
Only Margaret Atwood could get away with writing a book like this. While I found the book hard to put down, I have to say on an action level, not much happens. The story starts in an apocalyptic future before jumping back to Jimmy’s childhood and showing the unfolding of events that led to his present day situation. This will be a short review to avoid spoilers.
The future Atwood imagines that lead a to population-decimating plague are imaginative and well constructed. I know Oryx and Crake was published well before all of these, but if you liked Station Eleven, Matched, Annihilation, and The Passage, you will enjoy this one. Atwood’s future is far from rosy, unflinchingly honest in its perversions, and terrifyingly within reach. Jimmy is (amazingly) an ordinary narrator. He is not special in any way, but survives based on being in the right place, at the right time, in the right circumstances. His own survival is as baffling to him as it is to us and we acutely feel his confusion and pain at being handed a future he probably would have wanted to opt out of.
I am looking forward to starting the second book in the trilogy, The Year of the Flood, after the holidays.