Tag: Oryx and Crake

Maddaddam by Margret Atwood

Posted December 23, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Speculative Fiction / 2 Comments

Maddaddam by Margret AtwoodTitle: Maddaddam (Goodreads)
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Maddaddam #3
Published: Bloomsbury, 2013
Pages: 416
Genres: Speculative Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

A man-made plague has swept across the earth and wiped out most of humanity. Few survived, along with the Crakers (a new bio-engineered species). There may not be much hope for humans to survive but the Crakers have a chance. Toby and Zeb tell the story of just what happens next, in the conclusion of this great epic post-apocalyptic trilogy.

This is the final instalment in the Maddaddam story; a trilogy that I binge read over the past few months. Just a quick recap; Oryx and Crake tell the story of these two as well as Snowman, the destruction of the world and the creation of the Crakers. At the same time The Year of the Flood tells the story of Toby and The Gardeners (a religious cult). Those two books run in parallel and lead us to Maddaddam, where the two stories meet.

I’m not too sure how I feel about the final novel in this trilogy. On one hand this is a rather upbeat finale that ties everything up into a nice little bow and on the other, I much prefer bleak and I feel this novel was unnecessary. Not to say it was bad but both Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood worked well as standalone novels, they both interconnect but you could probably read one or the other without confusion. When it comes to Maddaddam you really do need to have read the first two books, there is a “previously on the Maddaddam trilogy” moment at the start of the book but this is a novel to fill in the gaps. I don’t mind gaps, I like leaving questions unanswered but I can understand why Margret Atwood would choose to wrap things up.

Maddaddam is a novel about renewal Oryx and Crake focuses on the destructive nature of science, and The Year of the Flood looked at religious fanaticism; I’m a little surprised this book was more positive. Atwood writes really thought provoking novels and Maddaddam is no different, though this does feel more optimistic. This novel focuses heavily on science and politics, two of Margret Atwood’s favourite topics and she does leave the reader with plenty to think about.

One thing I found in this novel that surprised me was the dark humour; I don’t remember Oryx and Crake or The Year of the Flood being this funny. The dark post-apocalyptic themes were evident within this book, I was just thrown by the outlook and ending; it felt almost joyous. In the end it did wrap up the series in a nice way, despite my feelings toward this novel, it was a great read and the whole series is worth checking out.

The Year of the Flood by Margret Atwood

Posted October 24, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Dystopia, Speculative Fiction / 0 Comments

The Year of the Flood by Margret AtwoodTitle: The Year of The Flood (Goodreads)
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Maddaddam #2
Narrator: Lorelei King
Published: Bloomsbury, 2009
Pages: 434
Genres: Dystopia, Speculative Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Year of the Flood follows the lives of two characters, Toby and Ren. Toby is a young woman who lost her family and the corporations are to blame. She is forced work in a burger chain you would never want to eat at, that was until she met the Gardeners. Ren grows up working in a sex club called Scales and Tails. She previously dated Jimmy (Snowman) and found herself locked in bio-containment when the pandemic happened.

This is the second book in the Maddaddam trilogy and happens simultaneously to Oryx and Crake (for the most part). While book one jumped between the dystopian corporations-controlled world and after the pandemic, The Year of the Flood is more linear and set mainly in the pre-apocalyptic world. While it isn’t really necessary to read Oryx and Crake first, I think the majority of the world building was done in the first book leaving this one more open to focus on the characters and plot.

I will admit I loved the way Oryx and Crake portrayed the corporations dystopian world I love so much but I think The Year of the Flood was overall a better novel. I liked the characters more and the portrayal of a religious cult was fascinating. Margret Atwood seems to draw a lot on personal religious experiences and then build on that to create this cult. I’ve been in plenty of churches, have met many religious fanatics and it really feels like Atwood has too.

She even took the religious element one step further by adding 14 hymns; even during her book promotions and on the audio book they have performances of these hymns. I think Atwood managed to balance religious fanaticism and hostile corporation practises just right in the novel. Both never felt overpowering and allowed for character and plot development to take the foreground.

The more I read of Atwood the more I am in awe of her brilliance. I remember reading The Handmaids Tale and never really thought too much of it but now I that I know her style and the messages she wants to get across, I feel like I should try that book again. There are some other Atwood books I want to try as well so they might have to come first.

I’m entrenched in the Maddaddam world and looking forward to reading the final novel in the trilogy. Luckily I have the book on my shelf waiting and I probably read it soon. I don’t normally read a series (or the same author) so close together but I was sucked in and needed more from this world. Fans of both post apocalyptic and dystopian novels should check out the Maddaddam trilogy, there are some interesting themes through the first two books and I’m sure it will continue in book three.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Posted September 9, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Dystopia, Speculative Fiction / 12 Comments

Oryx and Crake by Margaret AtwoodTitle: Oryx and Crake (Goodreads)
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Maddaddam #1
Published: Bloomsbury, 2003
Pages: 378
Genres: Dystopia, Speculative Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Jimmy was a member of a scientific elite, living in isolation, suffering through bitter loneliness. Then an unnamed apocalypse came along, now he is known as Snowman and he may be one of the few survivors. This post-apocalyptic hermit resides near; what he refers to as Crakers—strange human-like creatures. In flashbacks the story develops, the Crakers, Wolvogs, Pigoons and Rakunks are assorted life forms that are the products of genetic engineering.

Oryx and Crake are the symbols of a fractured society, which Jimmy was once a part of. This is where trying to explain this novel can get complex. There are two different worlds within this book the post-apocalyptic world but then there are the flashbacks. The dystopian world was far more interesting for me. Much like Super Sad True Love Story. this is a dystopian world that I can see coming, corporation’s rule the world and pornography has become mainstream. It is normal to watch live executions and surgeries, nudie news (apparently watching the news when they are fully clothed is just weird), even child pornography.

I love novels that deal with the dangers of corporations having too much power; Super Sad True Love Story is a prime example of it (I should re-read that novel) and Oryx and Crake is another example of this (need more examples). Science and marketing techniques leave the public as powerless consumers and there is nothing to stop the unprecedented corporate greed.

Genetic engineering is a slippery slope; I seem to find myself attracted to novels that deal with science going too far. Oryx and Crake is a great example of this; Crake is a scientist working in the biotech project that created the Crakers. Genetic engineering progress continued to advance and eventually lead to a complex and sinister project called Paradice, but when that collapsed it caused this global devastation.

Oryx was a girl Jimmy and Crake found on a child pornography site that eventually was hired by Crake as a prostitute and to teach the Crakers. Oryx obviously had a difficult past, and Oryx and Crake attempts to deal with this issue as well. This is not an easy issue to deal with, the majority of the world would say they are against child pornography and yet it continues to happen and we see no signs of it ever being truly dealt with. Margaret Atwood doesn’t have a problem with trying to deal with difficult issues and this novel has plenty to say.

Moving away from the dystopian world and into the post-apocalyptic one, we have a whole new set of themes and issues. While this is a direct result of the corporate destruction, now we have to deal with survival. The Crakers are like little helpless children that Snowman tries to help; so now we have parental responsibilities as a major theme as well as our social responsibilities. He also has to protect them from the Wolvogs, Pigoons, Rakunks and whatever might disrupt their civilisation.

This is the second Margaret Atwood novel I’ve read and I’m starting to see a familiar theme coming through in her novels. I believe she wants the reader to have a look at civilisation and what we are doing that is beneficial or harmful. I’m sure the rest of the Maddaddam trilogy will deal with this; I’m not sure if all her books have a similar theme but I suspect they might.

I love a novel that tells a great story but is also loaded with different themes and symbolism. I feel so fulfilled reading a book like Oryx and Crake and spending time digesting the words and examining what Atwood wants to tell us. I was meaning to read this novel for so long and now I’m left with intense desire to read the next two in the series. Thanks you Bloomsbury Australia for pressuring me into reading this book, I have no regrets.

Monthly Review – August 2013

Posted August 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

death in the afternoonAs we come to the end of August, it is time once again to have a look at the month’s reading. This month the book club read the non-fiction sports/travel book Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway. While I am against bullfighting, this was an interesting dip into a sport I had no idea what was happening. Next month we are reading one of my wife’s favourite books; The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

I feel very proud of my reading this month; I read some great books and hope this trend continues. Fifteen books read and some of my highlights include Fadeout, Oryx and Crake, The Third Man, The Unknown, Kiss Me First and We Need New Names. There was just so many great books and I feel like I didn’t have any wasted reading time (with the exception of The Suite Life) but the biggest thrill for this month was The Machine by James Smythe a wonderfully dark and complex novel that really deserves more attention.

My Reading Month