ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Oryx and Crake- A Book Review

Updated on June 20, 2012

I have recently found myself on a post-apocalyptic literature kick. It's done terrible things for my psyche. I see the end of the world on the horizon any time I read news stories that remotely remind me of events in one of the books I've read. I've contemplated developing an escape plan to the mountains and stocking up on non-perishables. Nevertheless, I keep reading. My favorites so far have been Oryx and Crake and its sister book, Year of the Flood. The author Margaret Atwood demonstrates nothing short of foreboding genius.

The Plot

For post-apocalyptic literature to be really good, it has to be somewhat believable. Atwood achieves this in a chilling fashion. Set in the United States some 50 years from the present, corporations have taken over an overpopulated world riddled with climate induced disasters. Rising sea levels and other weather phenomena have changed the landscape. Those lucky enough to work for the corporations live in luxurious modules while the rest of the world scrapes by in disease infested pleeblands.

The book is presented from the point of view of Jimmy, or Snowman as he refers to himself. He and a group of genetically altered people called Crakers are (he thinks) the only survivors after an act of bio-terrorism wipes out the world's populations. Throughout the book, the story transitions between his fight to survive in the present on beach and the story of his past that ultimately leads to the explanation of how the world ended.

Jimmy grew up in a module where his father and mother worked on genetically altered pigs called pigoons. After his mother mysteriously disappears, Jimmy struggles through adolescence by befriending the mysterious Glen and faltering through a string a messy relationships with various girls. His mediocre grades get him into a failing fine arts college where he continues to fail at relationships and finding a meaning to his life. Upon graduation he finds work in advertising at a corporation where he still does not reach fulfillment.

One day, Glen, now known as Crake, appears and rescues Jimmy by offering him a lucrative job working with Crake in a special, top-secret project to design Blyss Plus pills that create ultimate sexual pleasure with no consequences and a species of perfect genetically engineered individuals dubbed Crakers. Crake tells Jimmy this is all part of plan to achieve everlasting life. Oryx, Crake's girlfriend he rescued from prostitution, is teaching the Crakers how to survive on Earth. Oryx and Jimmy fall in love and Jimmy finally begins to feel happiness. Unbeknownst to Jimmy, Crake has really invented a pill that causes a highly infectious disease that is meant to wipe out the population, minus Jimmy who has been secretly vaccinated and the Crakers who are immune. Crake believes this will end the destruction humans have wreaked on the planet.

In the post-apocalyptic nightmare, Jimmy is tormented by his past, haunted by Oryx, and unsure of how to maintain his role as the guardian of the Crakers who have been engineered not to believe in god, mate only when reproduction is necessary, but still sing the most beautiful songs Jimmy has ever heard.

The Characters


Jimmy is the typical character you love to hate. He's left by his mother at a young age and never lives up to his father's expectations of becoming a scientific mastermind. Once he meets Crake he is constantly overshadowed by Crake's genius. He takes all of this underachievement and becomes the classic player who tells all the women he leaves he's incapable of love. This begins in high school and continues through college and into his career. His downward spiral ultimately leaves him depressed, drunk, and alone. Not until he begins working with Crake and falls in love with Oryx does he begin to dig himself out of his lifetime hole of self-pity. This is short lived, however.


While you only know about Crake from Jimmy's perspective, you learn a lot about him. At an early age he was fascinated the secret goings on of the corporations. Unlike Jimmy, he thought romantic involvement was a waste of time. His focus was on climbing to the top of the scientific ladder and actually impacting change. Unfortunately for mankind, this idea revolved around wiping the slate clean and starting over. Crake takes science to the extreme in his attempt to play god.


Despite his aversion to romance, Crake falls for Oryx. Once Jimmy meets her, he immediately falls, too. She is officially with Crake, but makes nightly secret visits to Jimmy's room and claims he is her true love. Jimmy is troubled by her past that has revolved around prostitution since she was a small girl, and the fact that she accepts it without the anger he has towards her former employers. Her role with the Crakers is clearly a version of mother earth, as she teaches them to respect animals and the world around them which is ironic considering the master plan behind the new species that involves destroying all humans.

My Thoughts

Throughout this novel, Margaret Atwood manages to create a work that is both poetic and terrifying. The world she creates is full of the new in the form of strange genetic mutations, and the familiar demonstrated by the age old phenomena of human desire for power, love, and evasion of death. Her command of flashback keeps you completely entangled in two stories at once which basically means you couldn't put the book down if you wanted to.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      I love post-apocalyptic fiction, and in fact wrote a hub about why it may be so popular these days. I'm in the process of reading this book right now, and love it so far. I'll have to read the companion book. Good review, voted up and interesting.

    • brenda12lynette profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Utah

      You're welcome billybuc! Thanks for stopping by again!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This was a great book and I'd completely forgotten about it. Thanks for the great review and reminder.

    • brenda12lynette profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Utah

      Thanks! I'm sure you will love them! I have not read her other stuff, but it is on my list.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 

      6 years ago from North Florida

      I love post-apocalyptic fiction, which there seems to be no shortage of these days. I will definitely give these books a try. I've read this author before and liked her books.

      Great review!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)