Monday, July 4, 2016

Atwood, Margaret (Oryx and Crake)

I was forced to put this book down because my loan ended, and by the time I did, I was a little irritated at the lack of progress. Atwood is generally fabulous at spinning a yarn, and maybe I was extra irritated because I always expect more from her.

By the time I got the loan again, we were starting to flashback to the school and work days, and while flashbacks can be even more frustrating in a narrative, in this case they were absolutely necessary. Snowman sitting on a beach, barely surviving and talking to the air was not creepy, it was boring. Snowman recalling his childhood - however seminal to the story, really - was as pitiful as sitting on a beach, etc., so also boring. You can't tell a post-apocalyptic tale without explaining how your protagonist actually factors in, and talking about his childhood goes nowhere fast. Snowman recounting his redeemable features as an adult - that I could get behind because it made me wonder what he had literally done to get himself into the mess he was in, not just why his family life was crappy.

There's nothing wrong with writing about what happens when viruses go haywire - Station Eleven is a more than excellent example, Stephen King's The Stand a little less so, The Walking Dead is a beast unto itself. But social and environmental moralizing and post-apocalyptic stories told together leave a bad taste in my mouth. Atwood works too hard at it, and there's too much "duh" and not enough nuance.

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