Review: Oryx & Crake (MaddAddam, #1) by Margaret Atwood

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oryx and crakeTitle: Oryx & Crake
Series: MaddAddam, #1
Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Source: Purchased (Paperback)

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Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

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The funny thing is, as I sit down to write this review, is that I hosted a 5-week read-along for this story and yet I have no words when it comes to writing a review. Maybe I’ve spent all my words ranting about a story I intended to love, but came out feeling on the wall about? Maybe it went over my head? Maybe I just can’t deal with speculative fiction? Maybe it’s all of the above?

This is a book that I did want to like. I wanted to read it based on the recommendation of a favourite singer-songwriter of mine who reads a lot of philosophy and, really, just heavier reads. I’ve read Margaret Atwood in the past – The Handmaid’s Tale – and figured this one wouldn’t be so bad. AND it’s been on my shelf unread for about 10 years, so it was due time.

I think, when it comes down to it, I expected more. That isn’t to say that Atwood doesn’t pack a punch in this book, but for an author who is highly renowned in Canada, I expected to finish reading the story feeling ALL THE THINGS and wanting more. But there were a few things that made me think otherwise.

First of all, speculative fiction is terrifying. There were so many instances in the book that mirrored what was going on in the news that I was scared to read on. It all just seemed spot on to what is going on in the world. There were parts that made my stomach turn and parts that made me laugh, but for the most part, I felt very unsettled.

Second of all, the characters. When I read fiction – any kind of fiction – I want to latch onto at least ONE character and I found it very hard to do so in this book. I did love Oryx’s character, but we don’t get a lot of her in the story. Really, the story is all about Snowman and Crake. Both of these characters weren’t exactly the most likeable.

Third of all, there’s the ending. Now, I’m not going to give anything away (if you want to know my spoiler-full thoughts, just check out my read-along posts) but I felt like the story ended in quite the anticlimactic way. It was like there was all this build-up and then the balloon fizzled out. We ran out of oxygen. Mainly, the story is set up for another book in the series. I get this, but I felt like I needed more of a resolution in the end.

Without a doubt, Margaret Atwood is a talented writer and I do hope to try more of her books in the future. I don’t know about continuing on with this series – maybe I’ll need a buffer of a few years before continuing – but it is a book that I would recommend to people who like speculative fiction, or general weirdness in their reads.

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12 thoughts on “Review: Oryx & Crake (MaddAddam, #1) by Margaret Atwood

  1. Yikes, this one sounds creepy! Too bad you didn’t enjoy it more. I think the only Margaret Atwood book I’ve read is The Handmaiden’s Tale and it was ages ago. I feel like a bad Canadian now!

    • I read The Handmaid’s Tale YEARS ago and loved it … this is the only other book of hers that I’ve read! Don’t worry … there are LOTS of Canadian books I haven’t read yet!

  2. Aww, too bad you didn’t enjoy it more. Did you like The Handmaiden’s Tale? I’ve been wanting to read that one.

    Not being able t connect with the main characters is a bit of a drag though. 😦

    Hopefully you enjoy some of her others works more.

  3. I actually liked the sequel better but I think I was in the minority on that one. My favorite Atwood novel is The Blind Assassin which is more historical fiction – it can be a slow starter though and has several different stories and timelines that all come together in the end. Cat’s Eye is a very good one about relationships between women and one of her more straightforward novels.

  4. I read this for an English class and was a little underwhelmed myself. I sort of enjoyed it as I was reading it, but I have absolutely no desire to continue with the series.

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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