Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Seven months ago now, my friend Christina and I started a book club. The point of that book club was to read what I was needing to read for school, but that failed pretty quickly (my friends are supportive, but most aren’t that supportive). Since then, it has changed and morphed into a science fiction book club, which is more or less just an excuse for us to read fun books and hang out with some of our closest friends.

This last book that we read was originally on my reading list for my PhD exams but was removed by my director because the author is Canadian. (Apparently Canadian literature isn’t American?) This book, recommended to me by a friend from school, was Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

I’ve been wanting to read Atwood’s work ever since I got the chance to hear her speak and then meet her in person at Butler University as part of the Visiting Writer’s Series (formerly organized by my friend Nonie). I have just never had the chance until now.

Oryx and Crake is a hard text to nail down in terms of giving a non-spoiler explanation. Basically, it’s the story of a man named Snowman who is taking care of a new race of humans. The narrative flashes back and forth between Snowman’s adventures in the post-apocalyptic world and the world of his childhood and later young adult life, particularly the story of his friendship with a man named Crake and, later, a woman named Oryx.

This book is pretty well known and acclaimed. It is the first of the Madd Addams Trilogy, one of Atwood’s most beloved serial works. Given the radically positive reception it has received, I suppose my opinion of the text might not matter, but for what it’s worth, here it is.

I really enjoyed Oryx and Crake and the world it presents. As a literature PhD student studying agrarian science fiction, this book is obviously ideal for my research. The world of the novel is deeply involved in genetic modifications of everything from plants to food to humans themselves. The story is well written, the characters relatable, and the plot all-too-believable.

While I really enjoyed the book, I feel like I should say that there are a lot of heavily sexual parts of this novel that some of my readers might not enjoy. Uncomfortable topics come up, including child pornography, that might turn off some readers. But if you can accept those parts as the social critique they are meant to be, I think that this is an important and interesting read.

I give Oryx and Crake four stars. You should check it out. I’m planning on reading the next books in the series soon.