Customer Review

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars last man standing, 1 Nov 2003
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This review is from: Oryx and Crake (Hardcover)
Given that much of Atwood's latest book relies on an Armageddon of modern biotechnology, she does well to avoid the pitfall of blinding us with science. Indeed Oryx and Crake is a wholly accessible dip into what our world could become if corporate nature-bending increases its steady grip in the name of progress.
Oryx and Crake is the story of Snowman, the last man on earth. Quite how he got to be, living in a tree with a sheet wrapped round him for protection, surviving on rotting fruit and rain water collected in beer bottles, as we first encounter him in chapter one, gradually unravels. Atwood mixes the present with the past seamlessly as it transpires that Snowman, formerly Jimmy, grew up closeted in a scientific compound with dysfunctional parents more intent on splicing breeds of animals to create new species, than nurturing their son. And so Jimmy meets Crake. Crake becomes his mentor but still fails to offer him the emotional support Jimmy craves.
Atwood develops Jimmy and Crake, and every other character, on cold hard lines. They obsess in the seedy world of internet pornographic voyeurism gone mad - it is here they first see the abused child Oryx . There's a mirror to the detached stark work of the unwavering science, the happy pills, the spliced new breeds, the high security corporate compounds to keep out the anarchistic and low life pleebland dwellers - or the "ordinary" people.
It is dealt with by Atwood's deft touch and managing to just toe behind the line of sensationalism and the graphic. A hint at the stuff of nightmares, a civilisation and a world being destroyed in every sense.
In the main, Oryx and Crake deals with some (less than) grand themes. And although it sometimes feels like we are merely being treated to some heady headlines with a lack of depth in places, this was surely Atwood's raison d'etre. Finishing the book one is left with a smack of sadness and little hope for the future as it is developing. It is nonetheless a rewarding and stimulating read. Atwood never fails to deliver eloquent and captivating prose and in Oryx and Crake she's pulled it off again.
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mfl
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Location: london

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