14 July 2010

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

I am a woman on a mission! I am devouring books as though I have been starved for words and stories. I received my gift card to Barnes & Noble last Tuesday. By Thursday it had burned a hole in my pocket, so I picked Benny up from school and we headed straight to the B&N. Side story: Benny wanted to play at the book store, so he kept repeating, I want to play, I want to play, I want to play, at the top of his lungs. Then he proceeded to grab my skirt and lift it above his head, thereby flashing the entire store my polka dot underware. It's bad enough to flash in public. But to flash in public while pregnant, well, my life hit a whole new low.

Long story short, I found a Thomas the Train track and Benny was in heaven. I told him he could pick out a book. He wanted to get a talking Cars the Movie book. I used my parental veto on that one. My one rule about toys and books: They cannot make electronic sounds. I opted for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Benny was not all too happy with my veto or my choice. However, he now asks for Cloudy at night. I guess that means he's forgiven me.

Luckily, I had come up with a list of books I wanted because by the time I flashed the store, played with Thomas, and argued with Benny about his book selection, his patience and my patience were running thin. I picked up The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (of The Handmaid's Tale fame). I immediately started reading Oryx and Crake and didn't put it down until Sunday night when I finished it.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to see Margaret Atwood speak about The Year of the Flood. Little did I know that she was in the process of writing a trilogy of sorts. The Year of the Flood was the second book in the trilogy. Her presentation was amazing. She was amazing. I decided that I could not read the second book until I read the first: Oryx and Crake.

For a quick synopsis, Oryx and Crake is about the world after humans have literally destroyed it through genetic modification. Atwood tells the story backwards. We first learn about Snowman (aka Jimmy) one of the only surviving humans. He is struggling to survive on the wasted Earth while watching over the Crakers. The Crakers are a new species of humans developed through genetic modification by Crake. He has to deal with all sorts other genetically modified beings - some benign, some not so benign. Snowman tells the story through a series of flashes backwards - to his childhood when humans were just starting to experiment with genetic modification in animals, to the beginning of his friendship with Crake, to his college years, to his professional years when he worked with Crake as Crake was simultaneously developing the Crakers as well as a plague so disasterous that it would kill all of humankind.

As I love all things Atwood, I loved this book. I can't wait to start on The Year of the Flood. It comes out in paperback on July 27. In the meantime, I am looking forward to delving into The Bean Trees to satiate my hunger for more stories.

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