Sunday, August 19, 2012

Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood

As far as he can tell, Snowman is the last human being on Earth. That is not to say is completely alone. Snowman lives with a colony of humanoid creatures known as the Children of Crake, beings that were genetically designed to be an improvement of the human race. The Children of Crake, or Crakers for short, are perfectly designed to survive and have greatly improved social interactions that eliminate jealousy, hierarchy, and competition among them. They live in perfect harmony. However, Snowman does not enjoy these same traits, and is frustrated at his circumstances. He struggles to survive, and also struggles with his own past, including his own role in the destruction of humanity. When his supplies get dangerously low, Jimmy must return to the compound where the nightmare of his current life began, a quest that is as much about his past as his future.

My Thoughts:
Oryx and Crake was not at all what I expected. It was one of two novels I had to read for AP English this summer, so I expected a pretty old, drab book. However, It was actually published only a few years ago, and fits in nicely with many other dystopian books that I have reviewed recently. The story itself was very captivating from the beginning due to a lack of knowledge of the past. Somehow, the world has been decimated, the last human is barely surviving, yet there is a race of humanoids thriving in the wild. As the story progresses, it is not so much about Snowman/Jimmy's survival, but about his past, and the pasts of Oryx and Crake. (This made the synopsis a little difficult to write. Really, the majority of the story is in the past, but I feel like the more "correct" was of introducing the book is in the future.) While the story itself dealt a little heavily on sex and sexual frustration for my taste, Crake identifies that frustration with many of society's problems, so it is somewhat necessary for the story. I did really enjoy the book for its focus on genetic engineering. Jimmy is very worried about the engineers going too far, and it is a valid concern. Improving animals for better food or better compainions seems nice enough, but then what happens when someone like Crake wants a better human? It is a very slippery slope that the book addresses very well. It also is an enjoyable story. Jimmy is a likeable character and provides a good look into the elite world of Crake. Really, my only complaint is that the book focuses too much on the past, and not as much on the current state of the world and the lives of the Crakers. I would definitely recommend this book, but due to a fair amount of sexual content, I would only recommend it to upper level high school students and older.

Questions for Thought:
1. In your opinion, are the Children of Crake human? (Remember, their base DNA came from humans.)

2. Does Snowman need to stay with the Crakers? Or should he leave them alone, like Crake seemingly intended?

3. How far is too far with genetic engineering? How can limits be determined?

4. If humanity had not been destroyed, could they accept the Crakers into society? Why or why not?

Please leave your comments and answers!

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