Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 436
Reason for Reading : Sci-Fi Experience, Man Booker Prize Challenge, I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood

A science fiction novel following Jimmy in a future not too far from us where genetic engineering and super bugs have destroyed humanity apart from the mysterious Crakers. It alternates between the present where Jimmy has renamed himself Snowman and his past showing life in the compounds where his father works as a scientist seperate from the pleeblands where the regular people live. His father is involved in making pigoons where human organs are grown inside pigs and harvested for human transplant. They even grow human neocortex.

It tells the story of how Jimmy meets Crake (real name Glenn) at school who becomes his only friend. They spend their youth looking at the delights of the internet including child pornography, animal and human websites, live executions and assisted suicides. Nothing seems banned visually to them and Crake has the genius to find a way to hack into the adult-only sites using his step-fathers credit card. They also play a series of games like chess and extinctathon which involves giving yourself the name of an extinct animal (this is where Crake gets his nickname which sticks).

The tension builds slowly over time with the addition of Oryx who both friends fall in love with after seeing first her as a child on HottTotts. There is a dark undercurrent as Crake starts college at Watson-Crick and gets more involved in creating new "improved" creatures. Jimmy uncovers more about Crake's past and what really happened to his father which turns out to be murder for having discovered the truth behind some of the pharmaceutical companies.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were fantastic and I love Atwoods prose. She weaves such a great tale and I love how she intersects the past into the present. My only problem with her is her endings. I saw it coming as I have now read a few of her books, but she has a tendency to leave things at there most interesting! She seems to revel in ambiguity and much of her writing is open-ended. This book was quite unsettling, but I do feel that science is always portrayed as the bad guy which also doesn't sit too well with me being a scientist.


Joy said...

Ya know, Rhinoa, I read this in October, 2007 and I still think about it every now and then. I rated it a 3.5/5 (I don't like sci-fi or fantasy), but it's left a lasting impression on me. I really want to read another Atwoood. I'm glad you really liked it. :)

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the great review! I have this one on my shelf to read. I hope to get to Blind Assassin this year for my first taste of Atwood, and I'm really looking forward to it.

soleil said...

i read this a few years ago. i really really liked it. i still can see the characters, setting and other images from the book in my mind. have you read the handmaid's tale?

Melody said...

Thanks for the great review, Rhinoa! I just found this book at a used bookstore just yesterday! Now I can't wait to read it... :)

BookGal said...

I read this one a number of years ago. I have found it unsettling ever since. I liked it, but I did wonder about the negative view of science. Science has done some fantastic things for the world too.

Rhinoa said...

Joy - I am glad you enjoyed it even though it isn't your usual read. I know what you mean about a lasting impression. I have read a few of her other books and highly recommend them.

Wendy - I am going to read The Blind Assassin this year as well and am looking forward to it. It has had some amazing reviews.

Jehara - Yes I read The Handmaids Tale first and have since read Bodily Harm, The Robber Bride and Alias Grace as well as this one. Next will be The Blind Assassin hopefully.

Melody - I look forward to seeing what you think of it.

Bookgal - I know what you mean, I felt the same about the negative view of science. I believe it is misunderstood and misrepresented in the press often sadly.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I have this one on my shelf, but I've read some mixed reviews and haven't felt compelled to pick it up yet--although Atwood is one of my favorite authors. I love Atwood's writing as well--her prose is something I always look forward to in her books. Thanks for the review!