Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I first read this book, I remember liking it, but I don’t remember why I liked it. I also remember being very confused about what the heck was going on. This second reading—now that I’ve also read The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam—made a lot more sense, but I liked it less. Maybe it was just a let-down after how awesome The Year of the Flood was, but Jimmy just wasn’t that interesting as a narrator. It’s like if I wrote down my life story. There’s some interesting stuff in there, but mostly it’s full of hang-ups and regrets and it’s all just tangential to the lives of those who are really doing stuff.
As Atwood writes about Jimmy, “He’d grown up in walled spaces, and then had become one. He had shut things out.”
Jimmy kind of reminded me of Ed Norton’s character in Fight Club before Tyler Durden came into his life, with Jimmy’s organized bathroom shelves and his general contentedness with just being mediocre. I suppose Crake could have been Jimmy’s Tyler Durden, except that rather than bringing a new level of awesome out of Jimmy, Crake just manipulated Jimmy’s innate non-awesomeness for Crake’s own purposes.
I didn’t realize it on my first reading of this book, but Jimmy/Snowman is kind of a Joseph. Here’s this huge, world-altering plan going on around him. His nearest and dearest are in on it, but it’s all a secret to him. He doesn’t bring the plan into existence, but he’s the one who’s left to take care of things.
After this reading, I feel a small urge to re-read the other two books again, but I think it would be more to look for the bits of the story that Atwood doesn’t tell than it would be to enjoy the books themselves again.
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