Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Tessa Bright Wildsmith
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Margaret Atwood is one of those rare authors with an imagination so big she has the ability to take you places you never thought possible. In “Oryx and Crake,” Atwood takes the reader to the future -- a future not too far removed from our present, but a future where things have gone very wrong.

Snowman is the only one left. He’s alone living in the woods. Snowman was once named Jimmy, and he had a best friend he called Crake. As Snowman jumps back in time to his childhood and the events leading up to his dark situation, we get a glimpse of a time much like our own where over population and over use of natural resources has left humankind in a bad situation.

Jimmy grows up in a bio-tech corporation compound where everything is safe. He is one of the lucky ones. Outside the compound, in the “pleeblands,” starvation, disease and destruction are a way of life for those living there.

As humans struggle to improve life by crossing animals and splicing vegetables, there are unforeseen consequences. A combination of these small scientific and genetic technological advances and global warming lead humankind to a total apocalyptic ending. Through Snowman’s recollections, we slowly learn what happened to humankind and what tragic events led to the end of the world as we know it. Now Snowman is the only one left.

One of the most fascinating things about “Oryx and Crake” is that Atwood has taken current scientific advances and added onto them until they have turned into something destructive and harmful. Many of today’s news headlines are the starting point for her vision of destruction. Gene-splicing, SARS, globalization, genetically-modified foods, cloning -- these are all familiar things to the reader that lead Atwood’s vision to a dark cataclysmic event. Humans start here, and, with every advance, destroy a little more of the world. Atwood gives a glimpse of a future that could very easily become our reality.

I’m typically not a huge science fiction fan, but this is more apocalyptic fiction than anything. There are no flying cars or space shuttles. There is only a dark, bleak future that is frighteningly familiar.

Atwood has written a sequel to “Oryx and Crake” called “The Year of the Flood” which received great acclaim and reviews. After finishing “Oryx and Crake,” I’m looking forward to diving into the next apocalyptic vision Atwood has created. Her imagination never fails, and her vision of our future is scary, but it is also unique and compelling.

Have you read “Oryx and Crake?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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