My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
I had previously read The Handmaid’s Tale, which I felt was OK, but not the gem that everyone else seems to think it is. Oryx and Crake sounded like a good apocalypse story, and I was hoping for something like The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Here is what I thought….
This is the story of Snowman (f.k.a. Jimmy), whose father works as a genographer (engineering modifications to existing species). He grows up on compound where his father works, separate from the ‘pleeblands’. He befriends Crake, who is top of his class, while Jimmy struggles at the bottom (although he has a mastery of words). The story flashes back to Jimmy’s childhood, to the shell of a world that Snowman lives in. Eventually Crake decides to engineer his own people and gives the rest of the world a virus, so his people will live while everyone else dies. Crake gives the antidote to Jimmy, who is (assumingly) the last human alive, to help the “Crakers” assimilate to the earth (they had been living in an isolated dome on a compound).
Plot Score: 2/5
The main character had a love for obsolete words, and it seems the author shares this fascination. Half way through I started to make a list of all the words I had to look up: pedagogical, ersatz, helot, troglodyte, locutions, hoary, aureole, crepuscular, chiaroscuro…
This did reduce my enjoyment of the book.
I also felt the book was slowly paced through out (feels like I’m wading through mud). I could have just skipped on to the end to find out the most interesting part- which is how Snowman came to be…
Style Score : 2/5
Jimmy- He is always uncomfortable with himself, and always jealous of Crake. He’s awkward and weak, and probably the main reason I struggled with this book. Perhaps I would have preferred Crakes perspective.
Crake- Much more confident, but surprisingly attached to Jimmy
Oryx- She comes in later in the book (unless you count the boys seeing her child pornography video), but since she is only seen through Jimmy’s perspective, it’s hard to get a ‘real’ feel for her.
Crakers-the people created by Crake, who are vegetarian, and have traits from the animal world that are supposed to make them an intelligent design (i.e. purring for healing, like cats, chemicals in urine to keep animals away, mating habits, etc.)
Characters Score: 2/5
In this world there are people working for major corporations, and living on those corporations compounds. Jimmy’s dad initially works for OrganInc Farms, which works on growing human organ from pigs (pigoon). The rest of the world is presented as a place of wild chaos (although we are only getting the perspective of the people in the compounds). “Castles were for keeping you and your buddies nice and safe inside, and for keeping everybody else outside.”
After the world wide virus everything was falling apart like “Sandcastles in the wind.” Jimmy is soley responsible for integrating the Crakers with the ‘real’ world.
World Building Score: 2/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
I *thought* this was going to be a book about the apocalypse, but there was a lot more going on. There is a large part of the story around child pornography and directed evolution. It speaks of the dangers of allowing profits to drive science. It talks about the inability to extinguish religion.
I like the messages, but I didn’t care as much for their delivery.
Life Lessons Score: 3/5
-I just want this experience to be over, I am not even going to process all my notes…
Total Score and Recommendation
11/25- I can’t recommend it, I won’t be reading the next one.