Sunday, 20 November 2016

TBC 20/20 Bloggers Event: Book Two, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood


Book Two of My Top 20 is - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Category  - Literary Fiction

Synopsis : The Human Race has been Obliterated. the Snowman is seemingly the only surviving man, he has two over reaching problems, his food supply is running out and he is the figure of worship and adoration of a group of creatures he has called the "Children of Crake" Green eyed, simple creatures who follow him around like a object of mystery and deity. 

Back when Snowman was called Jimmy and Crake was known simply as Glenn, they were best friends of a sort, their shared oddness maintained a bond, but Glenn's intelligence far outweighs his friend's and they are set on different life paths.

Glenn's part in the cataclysmic event that destroyed everything and the woman called Oryx who came between them both caused a fissure so great that nothing could reconcile them and now Snowman has to fight for survival every day.

My review:

Attwood is one of the best things to come out of Canada after Ryan Reynolds. Her writing is so deceptively simple in structure that it belies the complexities of ideas that she packs into her novels. I love her style, it is beautiful, lush and languid, is often direct, sometimes savage, but always easy to read. 

She is also a very diligent researcher. In readiness for this review series, I too did some research and listening to an archived episode of Desert Island Discs for BBC a Radio 4, she spoke to the  level of factual elements to all her books, her fiction is often an embellishment of scientific truths and 
discovery. That embellishment is not as outlandish as one might think in this instance.

Here in this haunting book of a man made apocalypse born of  what is basically human greed and mismanagement of resources, we find a place not so far removed from our own. The scariest things are those closest to our own experience, just amplified to create fear. 

Food is scarce and humanity is not thriving physically, but hugely advanced in the heir ability to utilise science.Chickens are bred  so mutated to the point they look nothing like birds anymore, just multiple breasted deformities that live and breathe. Pigs have been bred as organ harvesting vessels and the Dollar and image are King. Comparisons to our own food chains are not as big a step as one might imagine with growth hormones and antibiotics being commonplace in food agriculture, deformity in beef cattle is already evident with water injections to plump chicken for the supermarket shelves.

Normally her deftness with female characters is unrivalled, her  characters well rounded , flawed but present in their own fragilities, but here in Oryx the girl whose life is punctuated by abuses by powerful men, she seems removed from reality, slight and almost mythical. This is used to great effect once Snowman is left alone with the Crakers. 

Snowman and Crake are more solid, neither one particularly likeable, but riveting to observe, as a hero Snowman is very passive and defeatist until it is too late and the arrogance of the ultra intelligent is perfectly displayed in the ego of Crake.


Why have put this in my all time Top 20?

Great books are those that either teach us something about ourselves or inspire us to be more true to our own beliefs, aspirations and dreams. Anyone who takes a brief meander through my non book blogs will find my soapbox often in place when it comes to Food and resources, this book was like a siren's call to the activist in me who loathes the fact that British apples can be sent overseas to be polished to suit the aesthetic needs of the average British Supermarket consumer or that the hormones used to treat cattle are leaching into the water plains and hormonally altering fish and other aquatic wildlife.

Also it is just a horrific but utterly beautiful landscape, where even the mutated are part of a vivid whole that blasts the eyes with images that take eons to leave your mind before returning unsolicited to haunt you again months and years later.



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