Wednesday, 13 February 2013

March 2012 - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Apart from a couple of members who didn't come along to this meeting because they started the book but didn't like it, the book was fairly well received. Two of our members had previously read Oryx and Crake, and both actually preferred reading it the second time around. The book showed constant vivid themes throughout of things that have already happened – But with a twist. The scientific and religious elements were certainly interesting, possibly giving us an idea of how things COULD be in the distant future.
From a Science Fiction point of view the plot was believable, there were plenty of what if’s and knowing that certain actions are already happening in the World today such as food companies research and the cyber side of creating a virus so that you then have to find the cure, were alarming. Making a perfect race, was something that brought discussion to the group, having no religious faith and a simple way of life ran certain parallels to the ideals the Nazi’s had in place. Some members found the story behind Oryx highly unbelievable and it was even mentioned that she may have been a figment of Jimmy/Snowman and Crake's imaginations. When reading a story from a sole narrator it’s easy to question the reliability of the one sided view, however this may be overcome in a sequel to Oryx and Crake.
The characters were convincing in the fact they all seemed extremes of people we've all come across at some time in our lives. All of the characters were emotionally disconnected which made it hard to empathise with any of them, but this may be a sign of the times the book was set in. When Jimmy and Crake were both young boys, they seemed most convincing, playing the part of the naughty teenage boys we see today, misbehaving and sneaking off to watch porn! Some members thought the narrative would have been better coming from Crake's point of view. It was nice to see that Jimmy’s mother remained true to her values, and acted very much like a woman fighting for her rights today would act, an extremely strong willed character which was sad to see how she and people like her had become a burden and threat to future society.
For many of us, the parts that stood out the most were the scary, but most plausible parts such as Crake treating his world like one of his beloved computer games. How the World was basically reset with the Crakers, having no religion but seeing how it began creeping back in, despite Crake's best efforts. The Crakers compassion for Snowman and how his stories of the past acted as fables to them. Also how medical contagion has progressed, creating viruses to be able to create a cure, just as the Cyber World of today.
Although most of the members liked the book, about half of us felt let down by the ending. There were too many loose ends and we would have liked to see where the author was going with it – Although as mentioned above there is already another book out (Year of the Flood) which story runs parallel to Oryx and Crake so perhaps will give us more information. We all had different takes on what the ending meant; some thought Snowman had gone mad, some thought he joined the three newcomers, some thought he died from his wound, others believed he had killed the newcomers and then either killed himself or continued to protect the Crakers. We again all discussed what “Zero Hour” meant, but in the end it just left the group still wanting answers.
Our group already has a few Atwood fans, her writing style is descriptive and lyrical although feeling too long winded at times. Those who are already avid Atwood fans recommended that should anyone wish to read more of her work then The Handmaids Tale is a good choice.
11 members had finished the book, scoring an average of 7 out of 10, the lowest score being 2 and the highest 8.

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