Where Can Hope Be Found: Oryx and Crake Book Review
What is the cause of destruction? Is it our own neglect as the world slowly falls apart, our wants to change things and go back, or possibly our doubts about what the future may bring? There are many opinions but no one answer. Still, people attempt to find one through the quest of possibilities and ideas. Such actions are taken in Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake; possibly the core reason the novel received so many negative responses when it was first published.
Oryx and Crake is a love story narrated by the main character named, Snowman, who actually held the name Jimmy before mankind was killed off by a plague. The setting of the story takes place in a future now known to Snowman as he goes about his daily routine and begins to look out on the landscape that is now the destruction of the world, contemplating being the only human left alive. With the help of the words he tries to hang onto and the green-eyed experiments named Children of Crake, the novel maps out a tale of Snowman’s past, present, and future. Snowman, once Jimmy, slowly observes from his past to his present situation, the world unravel like a loose string and dwell into chaos; all possibly being the mastermind plan created by his dearest friend Crake.
Finishing the novel, not only did I find it to be a trilogy but I also discovered the core issue many people obtain by reading it. As Atwood’s attempt on many issues of today start to span into perspective in her novel, it’s obvious to most people that this story is nothing but an overly imaginative dystopia that leaves readers with more questions instead of answers. Not only throughout the novel as it slips into the past, is there child trafficking, a mass production of poverty, and the spread of disease, but there is also destruction happening every second of the day and as more technology is created, more problems occur.
Yes, this story can be read in these negative views but mine are different. There appears to be hope raveled into this destruction of the world and it originates with our main character Jimmy. As the past presents itself, numbers people (as they were called) ruled the world; creating new technology, new food, and new wonders. Unfortunately, words people (named after the people who adore English, poetry, etc) have little power and are often considered un-useful. Jimmy embodies being a word person, though at times he wishes he knew numbers and his friend Crake is a genius who, of course, embodies the use of numbers. Now that mankind is gone, however, what is the use of numbers, what is the use words? These are the wonders that trouble Jimmy’s mind. Even so, he continues to calm himself by constantly naming various words and trying to remember their meaning. His hope lies within his words. It is what guides him throughout this novel and even what encourages him to teach the Children of Crake.
The Children of Crake know little words but as they learn more from Jimmy, the reader can start to see the advancement in their personalities and the spring of emotions, something his friend Crake (who made them) tried to keep out. I believe this is a sign from Atwood that harbors the use of words as our hope, instead of the mass use of technology. By no means am I suggesting that she despises technology because I believe she does not. Her novel appears to be a warning, of what we could do in the terms of technology if we were to cross the line of nature. To show this, in her novel scientists create chickens without faces or emotions so that they can be harvested faster with no pain, pigs infused with human organs that they call pigoons, and even wovlogs (the mix of wolf and dog) that deceive you by being friendly like that of a dog then attack and devour you like a wolf.
Though these experiments may seem farfetched, they actually aren’t that far from what is happening today. If one was to search, there is research and experimenting taking place to splice together human organs to grow in another species. This is the point that I truly believe some people miss in their reviews. The eye opener of today. Especially with the bombing of Paris in which a concert hall was bombed. This exact moment (though not in Paris) was depicted in her story. A story that was published years ago. This destruction lead to many others that began the dystopia that became Jimmy’s past, present and future. A destruction in which many people began to lose hope in themselves and most importantly, in the world around them.
This novel is not simply a good read but rather a masterpiece painted for the reader through the detail of words. It is a glorious journey that keeps the readers' interest continuous. Though there are many questions left unanswered in the novel, I find Atwood’s approach comparing modern day experiments and what the world could lead to, a stunning performance through imagery. Whether this story represents a hopeful future that may be in our path or a catastrophic disaster that appears farther than we believe it to be, just like reality, in this novel, it remains a mystery.