My working theory is that Margaret Atwood wrote Oryx and Crake and then did this:
This novel follows no logical order. NONE WHATSOEVER. We’re in the present, now we’re in the past, now we’re in the present but having a flashback, now we’re in the future, now we’re in the past again, so on and so forth. Because Margaret Atwood does what she wants, she doesn’t care that you’re confused, and that you don’t know what’s going on, and that you can’t grasp the plot because it won’t stay in the same space and time for more than two chapters. She’s an artist, this is her design.
Oryx and Crake is an interesting read, if for no other reason than you spend the first three quarters of the book just trying to get your bearings and figure out what the eff is going on. It’s easy enough to establish early on that Snowman, the main character, is in some kind of post-apocalyptic world with neo-humanoids, and he’s the last human. Beyond that, you’re on your own.
The title characters, Oryx and Crake, only come in to full view at the end of the book. Little breadcrumbs of their identity are spread out throughout the book, shrouding them in a very generous aura of mystery. Full disclosure: I spent a decent chunk of the book trying to decipher whether Oryx even existed, or if she was just a figment of Snowman’s imagination.
I’m told this is a series and there are more books. I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue the series or not. I should probably get back to List reading at some point.
How I Feel About Margaret Atwood’s Writing: Some Background Information
I decided a long time ago that I do not like Margaret Atwood’s writing. I remember when it happened, actually. I was a young girl, an avid reader, and my mom handed me Cat’s Eye. After that I decided I never wanted to read Atwood again, thank you very much.
Later, in high school, I was given the option of reading Handmaid’s Tale, 1984 or Brave New World. I elected to go with 1984. This was not a difficult decision. Avoiding having to read Margaret Atwood novels was actually (and this is true) one of the core reasons why I never registered for Canadian Lit or Women’s Lit courses. I missed so much!
It wasn’t until adulthood (and this list) that I took up Handmaid’s Tale. Even then I did it as an audiobook. I maintain that
Anne Hathaway Claire Danes’s amazing narration of it (available on Audible) was the only thing that got me through it. But this should come as no surprise; Anne Hathaway is a treasure, and everything is does is amazing. She did a great job. Claire Danes is one of those actresses who always surprises me. I expect not to like her, then I do. She was amazing in Baz Lurhman’s Romeo+Juliet and in Homeland. Let that be a lesson about expectations.
(ERRATA UPDATE 2015/09/24: I realized after publishing this post that it was Claire Danes, not Anne Hathaway that narrated Handmaid’s Tale. Give me a break, it was a long time ago! So sorry to have led you all astray. The error has been addressed and resolved in the paragraph above. I maintain that everything Anne Hathaway does is amazing and that she is a treasure.)
I even tried to read that new one Margaret Atwood wrote…about debt…what was that called? Non-fiction. They made a documentary too. I should just Google it…but….nah….I don’t care enough.
So, when my brother-in-law said that Oryx and Crake was actually a really good read, and a departure from her typical writing, I decided “maybe I owe it to my Canadian heritage to give Margaret Atwood another go.” So I did. It was okay. Not awful. Better than I was expecting. I know, rave review, right?