I honestly cannot remember the last time I devoured a book this quickly or the last time I was this excited about a series. Let’s put it this way, I’m desperately trying to think of people to recommend this book to I enjoyed it that much. And I have no doubt I will devour the next two books in this trilogy as rapidly did this first installment.
Having only ever read The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin, It has clearly been some time since I read anything by Atwood. When I found out recently that she would be visiting Harvard Book Store to give a talk and read from her new book I KNEW I had to go see her if only to get my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale signed. She will be reading from her newest book MaddAddam and as I haven’t read the first two books in the MaddAddam trilogy I thought I probably should, so I picked up copies of Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood from the library and I am SO glad I did.
Although it took a bit for the book to get going, I was quickly enthralled by the story and the history of this new Earth. From the description of the genetically spliced species and the post-apocalyptic world to the slow revelation of who the protagonist, Snowman, is and his connections to the Crakers, Crake and Oryx, Atwood has created a world that’s so close to our current world with just enough different to be believable as a dystopic/alternative future which is more than enough to thrill and terrify the reader simultaneously. Needless to say, I’m diving right into A Year of the Flood and already have a copy of MaddAddam.
What I find interesting, and have ALWAYS found interesting, about Atwood is her ability to defy genres and subjects. In The Blind Assassin Atwood wrote science fiction and fantasy with romance and ‘literature’ and defied all of these genres simultaneously. In Oryx and Crake, Atwood does this again. She takes many aspects of Science Fiction and combines them with a literary merit (literally she included numerous mentions of famous literary works) and writes amazingly beautiful stories.
In addition to her genre-defying writing throughout the works that I’ve read she also has a common pattern of having a single narrator/protagonist with little need for additional characters. From Iris in The Blind Assassin and Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale to Snowman in this novel, Atwood takes a character and truly delves into their minds and brings them to life connecting readers to worlds and writing about human experiences that are so far from, and yet so similar to, their own. As I said above her ability to do this is equal parts thrilling and terrifying and as such she deserves to be read.
I have other Atwood books on my shelf and am once again asking why I haven’t read them before now. I may have to spend next year doing an Atwood read-a-thon or something.
Recommendation: READ IT! Everyone should read it. If there is a downside it is that it is a trilogy, but who cares it’ll still be amazing and you should still read it!
Opening Line: “Snowman wakes before dawn.”
Closing Line: “Zero hour, Snowman thinks. Time to go.” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from Oryx and Crake
“His mother said that all children were arsonists at heart, and if not the lighter he’d have used matches.” (16)
“Under the old dispensation, sexual competition had been relentless and cruel: for every pair of happy lovers there was a dejected onlooker, the one excluded. Love was its own transparent bubble-dome: you could see the two inside it, but you couldn’t get in there yourself.” (165)