I have an arbitrary list I revise every year of things I want to do for the year. It isn’t new years resolutions because I typically recreate it in October/November, and there are specific things, local places to visit, foods to try, versus platitudes. It isn’t exactly a bucket list because I think the term “bucket list” is stupid. I settled on calling it my “dream board” tongue-in-cheekily for lack of better terminology. To make a long story short (too late) because of the Goodreads award winners last year, I had “Read Madd Addam” on my list. Lo and behold, this was the third one in a trilogy so to make my dream come true I needed to start with “Oryx and Crake.” One down, two to go.
I have read a few Margaret Atwood novels and find her writing to be creative, captivating and thought provoking, and this novel did not disappoint. When the story begins the protagonist known as “Snowman” is scraping by in a post-apocalyptic world. He is visited by the “Crakers,” beautiful humanistic creatures, with childlike qualities, flawless skin, and a simple lifestyle. He is the other to their primitive people, a god-like creature whose omniscience is puzzling in this setting. This novel drifts from the present, with “Snowman” and the Crakers, to the past when Snowman was just Jimmy, and Crake was his childhood friend. They live in a world where science and scientific advances know no bounds. Similar to the unfortunate scientists in Jurassic Park, they “were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Animals are spliced together, pigoons and rakunks, and there is no limit to the effort put into plastic surgery. It seems the humanity in the human race is being erased as everyone is focused on progress for progresses sake. And all of it leads to the destruction of the modern world, other than who we know as “the Crakers” and Snowman/Jimmy, who someone has escaped whatever has brought down the rest of the human race.
Atwood slowly and steadily builds suspense while Snowman’s narrative bounces back and forth from present to past. It is a slow reveal of facts, teasing toward a conclusion, until the reader is deep into the horrors and loneliness of the future she has created. The end of the novel creates more questions than answers, which is really what you want out of the first of a trilogy. I’m hoping to knock out the next two before the year is up, and thus cross this off the “dream board” for lack of terminology.
As a personal sidebar, I found it fitting to end my half cannonball with this book, as one of my first reads of the year was “Station Eleven,” another phenomenal dystopian novel.