Tag Archive | Margaret Atwood

What I Read: Oryx and Crake

Guess what, blog?! I read a book that isn’t a YA book. Go me!

Some quick and unnecessary facts about my reading experience for this book: 1) Got it for about $3 at the Brooklyn Flea. 2) It smells like aged old lady perfume. 3) It took me a while to read because of the smell.

Title: Oryx and Crake

Author: Margaret Atwood

Lady Margaret, this is the third of your books that I’ve read since Christmas, and therefore the third that I’m putting on this blog, here. My dear friend, Alison, thought I might not like it because it’s super science-fiction-y and that’s not really my thing; while I’ll admit that it is not my favorite of yours, it was still pretty darn good.

Oryx and Crake is another dystopian novel, like The Handmaid’s Tale, but it’s a result of today’s world (or closer to, anyway), and not a result of the world of the 1980’s. There are CDs and DVDs in this one! Anyway, the book is told through Snowman / Jimmy’s POV. He is, presumably, the last of our kind of human on Earth. He is revered by the new kind of human–the Crakers–that exist with him, and through his interactions with them and his flashbacks to his time as Jimmy we learn just how the world fell apart.

As with The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood does a remarkable job explaining a new world to us in a way that is suspenseful without being obnoxious. Unfortunately, the last 100 pages or so are kind of dull because there isn’t much of anything left to reveal and there isn’t much of a plot running through this one. The characters aren’t particularly compelling, so those last pages were a bit difficult. Further, the ending wasn’t exactly satisfying.

But anyway, still a really good read. It’s an interesting take on what could happen if corporations and science run amok together and it’s definitely worth a read. 3.5/5 stars, although I rounded up to 4 for Goodreads. (That’s mostly due to me liking your other books, Margaret.)

For fun, my favorite quote: “So many crucial events take place behind people’s backs, when they aren’t in a position to watch: birth and death, for instance. And the temporary oblivion of sex” (10-11).

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What I Read: The Blind Assassin

I finished this a couple weeks, and now I will post about it. It’s been a busy couple weeks of not being busy and doing things.

Title: The Blind Assassin

Author: Margaret Atwood

Completed?: Yes indeed.

Spoiler-free Opinions: I really really liked this. The beginning is a little slow; we’re given a lot of questions and very very few answers. It takes a lot of time to even get close to answers, but once the reader can start piecing things together it gets much more interesting. To say it’s a thriller is not very accurate; while we want to know the answers, it isn’t thrilling getting there. Intriguing, interesting, beautiful, yes. Thrilling, no.

I think Laura is one of the best characters I’ve ever read. For her I would read this over and over again. She’s such a strange being, and such a believable one. It’s hard to write such a strange character without it feeling over-the-top, but I think Atwood did a great job with her. She also did a great job with the narrator, Iris. Although I just read Water for Elephants and that also had a super old narrator sad about being old, this one was much more interesting and much less whiny.

Atwood’s writing style is great in this one, too. It’s much more poetic than in The Handmaid’s Tale, and as you may have gathered by now, I really like poetic language.

Favorite quotes and phrases:

“[…] they could smell the difference between a deep sleeper and one who was restlessly dreaming. They killed as softly as a moth brushing against your neck” (Loc. 442).

“The word torn apart, splayed open: the implacable topography of sex” (Loc. 502).

“There were lots of gods. Gods always come in handy, they justify almost anything, and the gods of Sakiel-Norn were no exception” (Loc. 520).

“Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence” (Loc. 1303).

“[…] on the sidewalk my shadow crackles” (Loc. 1418).

“I never had a favourite letter that began my name – I is for Iris – because I was everybody’s letter” (Loc. 1526).

“I would have a little grey baby like a kitten and then I would die” (Loc. 2632).

“Which does a man prefer? Bacon and eggs, or worship? Sometimes one, sometimes the other, depending on how hungry he is” (Loc. 3671).

“The French are connoisseurs of sadness, they know all the kinds. This is why they have bidets” (Loc. 5124).

“All stories are about wolves” (Loc. 5832).

Stars: 4.5, for initial slowness. A beautiful read, that I would absolutely recommend.

The Golden Compass is next! I finished it a few days after I finished The Blind Assassin.

What I Read: The Handmaid’s Tale

Mondays seem to be blogging days. Something about not wanting to do homework after the weekend, possibly. Anyway, sometime ago I finished The Handmaid’s Tale so now I’m going to tell you about it.

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale: A Novel

Author: Margaret Atwood

Completed: Yes indeed.

Spoiler-free Opinions: This is the first book in a long time that I just could not put down. I started it over my winter break and found myself accidentally awake until five in the morning reading it because it was so interesting. Atwood creates a world and characters so compelling and honest and possible. This is a dystopian representation of what the world could be, and it’s both an unsettling and inspiring portrayal of human emotion and motivation. I loved it, if you couldn’t tell. Gripping the whole way through.

Reading some Goodreads reviews (I can’t stay away from them even though they tend to annoy me when I disagree), I see that a few of the negative reviews are due to its being compared to 1984 or the real world politics of the time or politics at all and what I have to say about that is that this is a piece of fiction, not fact, and people need to learn to separate books from 1985 with real life, at least today. I get why it would’ve been compared in 1985. It’s 2011 now, though. And also, 1984 was good, but I enjoyed Atwood’s style better. Sorry, guys.

I actually highlighted like a million things, but I’ll just give you my favorite quotes.

Favorite quotes and phrases (spoiler free):

“They wore blouses with buttons down the front that suggested the possibilities of the word undone. These women could be undone; or not. They seemed to be able to choose. We seemed to be able to choose, then. We were a society dying, said Aunt Lydia, of too much choice” (Loc. 436).

“We have learned to see the world in gasps” (Loc. 542).

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom” (Loc. 875).

“Whatever the truth is, I will be ready for it. This also is a belief of mine. This also may be untrue” (Loc. 1543).

“You can think clearly only with your clothes on” (Loc. 2076).

“Caught in the act, sinfully Scrabbling. Quick, eat those words” (Loc. 2669).

Stars: 4.25

So you should probably read this, if you haven’t. (Don’t watch Children of Men right after it, though. You will have nightmares.) I’m currently reading The Blind Assassin because I liked The Handmaid’s Tale so much, and it’s already promising to be really great. Next up for What I Read: Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants.

The first quote about too much choice being crippling actually reminds me of a Ted Talk I watched: Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice. A good listen, too.