Book review: Oryx & Crake

My book group met a couple of days ago to talk about it.

It's a bleak, depressing post-apocalyptic novel. It's set in a future where global warming has totally screwed up the weather and humans have totally screwed up everything else.

I liked it. Although it's a cautionary tale about the dangers of playing god through genetic engineering, it's also very engrossing. It's filled with little details about this future that are clever, grotesque, and sometimes funny. They eat ChickieNobs (I'll spare you a description; suffice it to say they're not your mother's chicken). They play a computer game called Extinctathon. They watch Noodie News (naked newscasters; hilarious description).

I got the impression that Atwood wrote the book quickly, without thinking too much. I mean this in a good way. The writing has an effortless quality to it. Effortless, and tight: nothing jarred me.

Well, one thing did jar me a little: the character of Oryx. She is the incredibly beautiful, mysterious sex kitten. Whenever she came on stage I had to remind myself that the book was actually written by a woman, because she's the kind of character a male writer might make up to gratify his own ego. But when I mentioned this at book group someone else commented that we only really see Oryx through the eyes of the (male) main character. So maybe the author wrote her that way deliberately.

One big drawback: you can't read this and then happily eat processed vegetarian foods. I saw a soy product called Chik'n Nuggets in the frozen food section at Whole Foods yesterday. NO WAY!!!

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I've enjoyed reading the literary crushes comments. Let's have some more!


  • Oryx's storyline bothered me more than anything else in the book (and that's saying something!). The poise with which she accepted (or seemed to accept) her former life as a sexually exploited slave was very troubling, and Jimmy's obsession with her even more so.

    posted by Blogger Suzanne on 8:35 AM  

  • Once in the grocery store I saw some processed chicken patties that had in big yellow print, "NOW! With More! Food! Product!"

    I passed.

    posted by Blogger Carson on 4:08 PM  

  • I agree, Suzanne. (And not just Jimmy's obsession. Crake's, too.) Furthermore, I'm not sure the woman at book group who said we were just seeing her through Jimmy's eyes was right. I don't think the subjective nature of reality is one of the themes of this book.

    Carson -- eww!

    posted by Blogger Julie on 4:29 PM