Book Review – Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood



  •    Book: Oryx and Crake
  •    Authors: Margaret Atwood
  •    Genre: Speculative Fiction
  •    Year of Release: 2003
  •    Read 378-page hardcover edition in January 2016.

Book Description:

In a post-apocalyptic world, Snowman, who was once called Jimmy, is struggling to continue, being possibly the last real human being alive on the earth.  He decides to go back to a science facility he used to work at, to get answers, and see if he can gather supplies but also learn something.  As he goes, he revisits the past years of his life, which show how he somehow ended up at the centre of the disaster that befell the earth and humanity.  This dystopian novel is an exploration of one man’s feelings and emotions, and also a cautionary tale of the future.

Book Review:

This was definitely a fascinating novel from renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood, and was the first in her MaddAddam trilogy.

Admittedly, the beginning of the novel felt slow, and thankfully the pace and suspense picked up as we went along, creating more enjoyment for the reader.  The style of the novel was also challenging to fully absorb at the beginning, with changing tenses and timelines being told simultaneously.  Again, once you became acclimatized to the style, it became easier and more enjoyable to keep going.

In terms of the storyline itself, this was probably the strongest point of the novel.  The main character Snowman/Jimmy is telling us about both what is going on in the present moment, but also times before the doomsday event, where he lived in a future world similar but different than the one we know today.  But with ongoing advances, risks for humanity also increased, which led to a true, epic disaster.  As the plot unfolds, a variety of themes are presented by Atwood in an interesting and sometimes frightening way.  The use of technology, the use of drugs, the power of big corporations, ongoing disparity and classism, genetic modification, and environmental degradation are all explored in this fascinating novel.  Overall, the exploration of these themes in the novel is fascinating and makes this novel, at its heart, a success.

The main characters of Snowman/Jimmy, Crake, and Oryx are well written, and their intertwined relationships are definitely complicated and therefore fascinating.  At times a little more character development would have been nice, although perhaps knowing less, particularly of Oryx, may actually create more intrigue and mystery for the novel.

In closing, this was perhaps not the best dystopian novel, and perhaps not Margaret Atwood’s best novel, but it is definitely a worthy read with lots of great content by a skilled writer.

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.