Two years ago, I read The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and thought it was a great book, even though the ending half threw me off a bit. Later, I realized the ending half of The Year of the Flood was actually the point of the story that picked up from the ending of another book, Oryx & Crake. That’s when I realized that I actually read the second book in a series! No wonder I was a bit lost near the end. Anyway, I did like The Year of the Flood quite a bit regardless and told myself I’ll read Oryx & Crake ASAP so that everything makes sense. ASAP apparently means two years later to me, haha.
So yes, here I am, having finally finished the first book of this wonderful series. Oryx & Crake is told by Jimmy, or Snowman, as he likes to be called in the post-apocalyptic world. After a disastrous biological virus of some sort wipes out humanity, Snowman believes he is the last human alive. Everyday he struggles to survive in a world where the animals have been genetically modified to either be more docile than they usually are, or more vicious. He has considered just killing himself off and being done with everything, but he continues to live because he promised his close friends, Crake and Oryx, that he will watch over the Crakers.
The Crakers are genetically modified “humans” that are vastly different from Snowman. They were created by his genius friend Crake, back when the world was still whole. The story alternates between the present, and flashbacks of the past, when Snowman was Jimmy. Jimmy and Crake were best of friends, but Crake was always the more genius of the two. Even when they separated and went to different schools, they remained in touch. One day, Crake invites Jimmy to work at his company, and it is there that Jimmy begins to fully comprehend the genetic projects Crake has been up to. He is assisted by Oryx, a girl that Jimmy and Crake have actually seen in kiddie porn. Both boys fall in love with Oryx.
Like with The Year of the Flood, this is a book with a powerful vision of the future, one that is depressingly bleak. I really love this book, and enjoyed it even more than I did with The Year of the Flood. Unlike its sequel, Oryx & Crake wasn’t just all about the apocalyptic present; there was also the time when the world was seemingly perfect. To them, it was a utopic point of civilization; to the reader, it appears utterly dystopic. The world is ruled by corporations and companies, which really, if you keep up with the news, appears to be the eerily similar path we are heading down. People want to be healthier, fitter, smarter, more beautiful, for as little world as possible, and the corporations in this novel fully take advantage of that. It might sound crazy, but I love books like this that speculate on the future, no matter how awful it may be. I love picking out what is plausible and what isn’t. A lot of things in this book sound like it could possibly happen in the far future.
I liked this novel because there is almost a philosophical component to it, as well. For example, the Crakers bring up an interesting idea. Crake takes the idea of humans becoming better extreme when he creates the Crakers — why not just completely reinvent the human species? Crake gets rid of a lot of what he calls unnecessary human behaviours and creates a “human” that I would argue is not a human anymore, even if they physically resemble one. This book is also full of ideas for conspiracy theories — some people may already believe them! As an example, in the book, Crake says that humans have already pretty much invented the cure for everything, but they keep coming up with new viruses in order to sell more medicine. It is creepily possible … Incidentally, this is what leads to the entire human population dying, when a super virus goes haywire.
And, of course, the writing is fabulous. It was actually quite easy to read and I was hooked onto the story not too many chapters in. I had a hard time putting it down. I loved the characters, they were so memorable. I haven’t fully figured out what was going on between the three characters, specifically Crake and Oryx. They are both such mysterious characters. Crake, especially. You can never fully figure out what’s going on in Crake’s head, which I think is the point. When it comes to Crake, there are so many ways to speculate about why he is behaving the way he is.
I definitely recommend this book to everyone!