by Julie HaleMay, 2004
Oryx and Crake
Atwood's 17th book is a wild-at-heart work of science fiction that may be her most ambitious offering yet. The novel's central character, Jimmy, moves through a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape, remembering what life on Earth was like before disaster wiped out civilization. In the extended flashback that comprises the bulk of the book, he recounts his childhood on a bioengineering farm, where he befriends a young genius named Crake. Crake eventually attempts to create a new race of beings humans resistant to disease and stripped of their propensity for violence and war with the aid of his Asian girlfriend, Oryx, a former Internet kiddie porn star with whom Jimmy has long been obsessed. When Jimmy goes to work for Crake, a love triangle of sorts ensues. Finding out how this strange threesome fares when civilization comes to an end makes for wonderfully provocative reading. A reading group guide is available at www.readinggroupcenter.com.