“Oryx and Crake” is the first book in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian MaddAddam trilogy. The apocalypse that is the precursor is biological and chemical engineering for power and profit. Genetic alteration leads to hybrid and mutant animals that would make any fan of Greek mythology proud.
I do not read a lot of dystopian fiction, but I consider “The Road” gold standard. It is spare, but highly emotional. “The Dog Stars” also focuses on relationship, and has more of a toned done Mad Max appeal. In contrast, this novel is inventive, but emotionally detached. The reader is an observer, even though it is told through the lens of Jimmy (later Snowman) and his relationship with his childhood friend and master-mind, Crake, and his love interest, Oryx. The society is emotionally detached, so the writing augments it. There is a perception of good and evil, but to the characters it does not exist. With us, or against us, at the corporate level, but is power related. The novel barely explores the underbelly of this society, because, Jimmy, Crake and Oryx has moved into the upper echelon who are detached from this underclass. Crake and ultimately Jimmy inhabit an insulated bubble called Paradice on the compound. As you might expect Paradise is Lost.
I had expectations for this novel because Ms. Atwood is a great writer and the trilogy is acclaimed. While Ms. Atwood is dark and creative as ever, the novel was not a page-turner for me. The conclusion is open-ended as you might expect in a trilogy.
You may not be disappointed. If you have not read “The Road” I would read that first. It is very different from this novel, but is chilling.