Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Three (Part 4 – 6 Reaction)

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It’s time for the SECOND reaction post for the Oryx & Crake read-along! If you haven’t read this book, there will be SPOILERS ahead, so use caution! I will definitely post a spoiler-free review of the book in the new year.

Have you signed up for the read-along yet? You can do so HERE.

Did you miss my first reaction post? You can read it HERE.

oryx and crakePart 4 – 6 Reaction

“But I talk to you,” he’d protest.
Another kiss. “Do you?”

As I read the second section for the read-along of Oryx & Crake, I can’t help but compare most of the things happening in the book to real life. First of all, there’s the idea of dicing and splicing everything to make it better, to improve the quality of … well, whatever we’re dicing and splicing. It’s like the world “before” was hell bent on making everything perfect, from people to animals. Gifts are things that can measure and enhance intelligence, to make us smarter. Or there’s the “rakunk” — a cross between a racoon and a skunk, which only has its parent animals’ good qualities and none of the bad.

Just recently, I saw on the news about farms using research to splice different fruits together to make hybrids that will survive the Canadian temperatures. One can only imagine what we’ll try to splice and dice next. We already tried cloning animals — can we be on the path to creating a “rakunk” as well?

There’s also the idea of OrganInc and how everything seems to be made for humans. Nothing is real — very little comes from farms, but is manufactured and made so that it matches the original source perfectly, but is enhanced in some way. This makes me think of a news article I saw recently about a test tube hamburger — a hamburger that cost a lot of money to make, but was pretty much made entirely in a test tube to resemble a real hamburger. The scientists hope that this could one day help the food crisis our world is facing.

“Hang onto the words.”

Finally, we meet Crake. Or, Glenn, as he used to be called. I can’t help but say that I was thrilled about the reference to Canadian pianist Glenn Gould — the person who Crake is originally named after. But really — who is Crake? Is he a genius? Does he know what’s to come?

More references to real life occur when Crake and Jimmy play computer games with one another in the same room. How often do we see people at dinner together, both on their cell phones? Or teenagers in the same room, texting to one another? Or, there are the TV shows or websites where Crake and Jimmy watch videos. These shows and videos show everything that’s going on and none of the good. We’re seeing videos of assisted suicides, animals being killed, thieves having their arms and fingers chopped off — has the world really come to this? But then I think back to another news article I saw on the TV recently about a website that showed video of what looked to be like real murders taking place. Is this what we’re going to see in the future? Is the world of reality TV really that desperate that eventually TV shows that are just pretend murder mysteries, actually turn into them?

We also meet MaddAddam in this section — or, we hear of him. Seeing as the trilogy of books is called “MadAddam,” it’s only necessary that the character show up at some point. Turns out he’s the inventor of the game Extinctathon. Instead of naming the live animals, he names the dead ones — or extinct ones. Could MaddAddam know more than we think?

There’s something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you’re still alive. 

Not only do we get more of a glimpse into this Crake character, but we also meet Oryx in quite a lengthy section. I will admit that after reading about both Oryx and Crake, I had no idea what to really say about either of them. Especially Oryx. Her “past” character seems to be one that has gone through quite the hardship and yet Oryx is one of the most optimistic people ever. Paired with Jimmy, who is the most pessimistic person ever, they make quite the pair. Jimmy/Snowman could really learn from Oryx when she talks about the beauty of the world and how we’re so eager to point out the bad without realizing how much good and how much beauty surrounds us.

By the end of reading this section, I completely understand the warning I was given before reading of being careful. This book was published 10 years ago and it seems to resemble real life now more than I could ever think it could. And it’s scary. I still have no idea what to think about Oryx and Crake, though I have enjoyed looking into what the world of “before” was — even if it’s been completely terrifying to think about.

Reading Schedule

Are you participating in this read-along? What are your thoughts on parts 4 – 6? 

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10 thoughts on “Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Three (Part 4 – 6 Reaction)

  1. I saw that hamburger things too! I think that later on they talk about exactly that kind of hamburger being served in the high school cafeteria.

    It’s so interesting (and scary) to see what authors got right and what they didn’t, especially when it comes to “speculative” fiction that’s set in the near-future. The internet never seems quite “right” because I don’t think anyone saw social media coming. The Year of the Flood feels more realistic because it was written after Facebook exploded (though it doesn’t mention Facebook, you get the sense that the whole social media thing happened.)

    The parts about Oryx I found impossible to stop reading, but we don’t really know that much about her. I kind of share Jimmy’s frustration with her for being so (seemingly) naive.

    • Really? There IS a hamburger part in the book? It just creeps me out …

      It’ll be interesting to continue on in the series and see what happens. I mean, really, lots of this COULD happen and we’re on the verge of it now.

      I’m not sure if I would say that Oryx is naive, but she just chooses to look at the positive rather than the negative … is that considered naive?

      • Yes, I swear I remember it!!

        That’s exactly the argument Atwood makes for this being speculative as opposed to science fiction – all this stuff could happen, for real, in this world.

        You’re right. Naive isn’t the right word. The thing is… she reminds me of the Crakers. Weirdly innocent but… not. Words are failing me!

  2. I heard a clip of a podcast the other day about a recent science fiction panel at some convention, and it was all about how science fiction (speculative fiction, what have you), is usually really, really wrong, and how awesome it is that that is the case haha. All of these big time speculative writers talking about how sometimes, yeah, they’ve gotten things right, but for the most part things aren’t as destitute as people believe they’ll be.

    That’s my take. People are SO negative when they think of the future and what it holds. I’m not sure why. Yes, technology gives us the power to do increasingly horrible things, but by and large technology has made our lives IMMEASUREABLY BETTER. We’ve done so many awesome things but people seem to want to focus on the negatives that may (but rarely do) happen.

    The timing of the three books is interesting. 2003 to 2007 to 2013 (I think those are the dates). With how much tech has changed in the last 10 years, it will be interesting to see how Atwood’s use of it changes in her proposed future.

    As far as Oryx goes, I’m not sure if I like her of dislike her. I find her outlook both refreshing and delusional.

    And something I never thought of until right now: given the new YA cover for the books, there will presumably be more 14-17 year olds reading the book nowadays. How will Oryx’s attitude towards EXTREMELY young sex fly with that demographic?

    • I don’t even think it’s with technology, but with lots of pieces that we see on the news. Take the royal baby, for instance. If you read the comments posted on, say, Facebook posts about it from local news channels, people were just so bitter about it! I mean, what’s wrong with having something happy in our news once in a while? The world is full of so much bad that we need to focus on the good, on the beauty, more often.

      However, technology is a big thing in our world now and it’s important that we try to use it for good as much as we can (rather than evil, obviously). Though I think there are a lot of people who just aren’t schooled in how to do that — that’s when it gets out of hand.

      I didn’t know that the new covers were aimed towards young adults! There are definitely YA books out there that deal with really serious issues, including sex, but it still seems really young.

  3. Oh no, I am so gutted that I have missed out on this read-along! I have only just started blogging and have recently finished (and blogged about) Oryx and Crake! Do you think you will host one for the Year of the Flood?

    • You can still join in! 🙂 I’m not sure if I’m going to do one for the next one … I’ve heard it’s wonderful, though! This book is pretty intense, so I’m not sure if I could read them both back to back!

  4. Pingback: Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Final Post (Part 13 – 15 Reaction) | Reading In Winter

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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