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The story begins after the collapse of civilization for reasons unknown to the reader at this time. Snowman, who has survived the end of mankind, lives in hermit like isolation near a group of strange human-like creatures who bring Snowman food and ask him about things they don't understand. In the surrounding forest, strange hybrid beasts such as wolvogs, pigoons and rakunks roam freely, dangerous products of genetic engineering.
While struggling to survive in this environment, Snowman recalls for the reader when he was a young boy named Jimmy, who grew up a compounded created by the multinational corporation for which his father worked, mixing genes of animals, humans, and plants to create the perfection solutions to the many superficial problem in society at the time. These carefully developed, all inclusive compounds kept the inhabitants safe from the dangerous and chaotic pleeblands, where the less-privileged general public lived. It is in this carefully constructed world where he meets Crake, a dangerously brilliant science student. They spend most of their time watching horrifically graphic television and website videos and playing online games which where sickening to read about. The amount of desensitisation in this future world, was frightening and yet not that difficult to image becoming the status quo.
After attending separate colleges and following different careers, Snowman and Crake reunite to work together on Crake's new project to create the Crakers, a peaceful society where people will live harmoniously with each other and nature; genetically engineered perfect humans. Crake hires Oryx to teach the Crakers how to live in harmony with their surroundings. Snowman quickly falls in love with her, believing Oryx was once the young girl whose stare has haunted Snowman ever since he first saw her on a terrible website in his youth. Suddenly, in cities across the world, a terrible virus is killing off the human race at a rapid pace. As the human race is disappearing before his eyes, Snowman is left to fulfill his promise to Oryx and Crake, to protect the Crakers.
Don't be surprised when the book ends, leaving you in suspense and wondering what Snowman will do when he discovers he is not the only survivor of the end of mankind. This is the first of a three book series; book two, The Year of the Flood, is in stores now, and book three, MaddAddam, set to release September 2013. I feel Oryx and Crake is the author's thoughts of what might happen, should society continue down the path we are starting. I read in a review of the book, that Atwood has at times disputed the novel being science fiction, preferring to label it speculative fiction and "adventure romance" because it does not deal with 'things that have not been invented yet'. I believe it is this element of the story that is the most frightening and unsettling aspect.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend the read to anyone who likes to stretch their imagine and image the answers to the question of What if?