Book Review: Oryx and Crake

IMG_4749.JPGAs a book nerd, I chose to take AP English. I am both happy and regretting this greatly – the discussions about the books we read are amazing, and my teacher is fantastic, but….. I have the lowest English mark I’ve had for as long as I can remember. And given the fact that I’m applying to English and humanities for uni, this isn’t optimal.

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ANYWAY. Back to the books. The first book we read in this course was Margret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. Now, typically, I don’t read the books for English class. I know, I know. Why not? How? Well, it comes down to two main factors: 1) My teachers tend to suck at choosing books. I’m sorry, but The Kite Runner? I know it has tons of awards, mentally stimulating and all that, yadda yadda yadda, but my god. I read bits and pieces and literally could not be more unimpressed with such a highly hyped book. 2) Time. I don’t know about other students, but due to a total lack of time, if I can bullshit something, consider it bullshitted.

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Oryx and Crake, however, was the first book I’ve ever not only read the entirety of, but honestly enjoyed to study. A marriage of moral dilemmas, well-written science fiction, and blatant sex jokes; I’ve never had a teacher choose a better book for their audience.

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Oryx and Crake is full of imaginative creatures, vivid imagery and a plotline that keeps you on your toes – not the actual plot of the story, but the backstory. To be totally honest, I really didn’t care about the story occurring in real time, but the analepsis chapters were amazing. Trying to decode the actions of Crake, knowing the vague endpoint and trying to understand how they would get from preschool Jimmy to Snowman was an adventure to itself. As a person who is slightly obsessed with genetics, disease and the morality of humans playing a role in the two, the science aspect of this book was fantastic as well. Furthermore, the inclusion of secret societies and Maddadam, I was hooked.

However, I do have a few not-so-fantastic things to say. Sometimes, the actions of the characters seemed disconnected to the characters themselves. There were these incredible, 3D people, who did things for the sake of doing them, or because they were “evil”. An understandable villain, one you not necessarily can sympathize with but follow their thought pattern, is the scariest type simply because it makes them human. The more you can understand a villain, the more ‘like you’ they seem, them scarier they are to me. This book began with that, with a character so understandable that you got to watch, however, in the last few chapters it went to shit and fell out of character, which was disappointing. Secondly, there was a single female character, and she existed solely for Jimmy to be infatuated with. With a tragic backstory, she was a stereotypical manic pixie dream girl, which was disappointing given the potential she had.

I intend to read the remaining books in the trilogy, so as to have a full understanding of this vibrant world, so check back for updates.

Overall: 4/5, entertaining and really fun to discuss as a group, biblical allusions on point, just wish it’d pass the Bechdel test

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