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ORYX AND CRAKE By Margaret Atwood
I have loved Margaret Atwood’s books – Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin. I did not love but was fascinated by The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s futuristic novel which was later made into a movie starring Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway. Her latest bestseller, Oryx and Crake, is a science fiction novel, more Handmaid’s Tale than Blind Assassin.
Oryx and Crake is the story of a young man, a tortured soul named Jimmy. When Jimmy becomes one of the last human beings left on earth after some sort of devastation never fully explained, he renames himself Snowman. The book jumps back and forth between Jimmy’s youth, in which his mother leaves him, his father ignores him and he befriends a strange genius named Crake, and Snowman’s present, in which he is alone with a genetically altered hybrid race of human beings called Crakers, named after their creator. Oryx is a compelling beauty who was raised as a child prostitute who Crake and Jimmy discover on a website and fall in love with, setting up the lover’s triangle that will play a part in the looming end of the world.
The story left me cold, but the writing – Atwood’s shocking use of language and ability to bring powerful characters to life in a way that feels like you’re being punched – is incredible. With so much bland and mediocre writing out there, reading Margaret Atwood is a pleasure I will relish even when the subject matter is not my cup of tea.
So – a thumb’s up for lovers of science fiction and language – Margaret Atwood’s latest bestseller is Oryx and Cake. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I’m Amanda Dickson.