On the coast of North America (just north of New New York), Snowman (formerly Jimmy) keeps a semi-watchful eye over a group of genetically superior—yet psychologically simple—beings, called Crakers. He finds it difficult to explain to them the significance of various debris they find that existed before them—a hubcap, a computer mouse, a piano key. But such artifacts spur memories of his life before and the deification of the two people closest to him: Oryx and Crake.
Oryx and Crake is the first installment in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy and sets up a post-apocalyptic future that is frightening because it seems like it could happen very soon. Crake’s quest for the perfect genetically engineered “human” takes him down a rabbit hole of extremes, and his best friend Jimmy does not realize how far Crake is willing to go until it is too late. The world of scientific compounds and ghettoized pleeblands resemble many other dystopic/apocalyptic stories, but the world of Oryx and Crake appears so much more real (the advances in science are not far off from what the world is currently working on) that it becomes imminently more frightening.
I should not have to tell you that Atwood’s writing is superb—she’s one of the greatest living writers (and most likely the greatest Canadian writer ever). If you’ve never read her stuff, start out with The Handmaid’s Tale (required reading in Canadian high schools) before delving into this trilogy. And if you’re already familiar with her work, then now is the time to grab Oryx and Crake since the final novel in the trilogy, MaddAddam, has just been released.