(Reposting from Goodreads just because)
This book is horrifying. No, I'm not saying it's bad. The writting couldn't be better. The world building? Amazing. The characters? The words 'real', 'complex' and 'vivid' come to mind. And the plot? Engaging. I stayed up until 3am last night reading; I just couldn't put it down. No, the book being horrifying has nothing to do with its quality. The horror comes from the creeping realization you get as you read and realize that the future described here could easily be our own. The corps, splicing, compounds, pleebland, even the pigoons; all these elements are great because you can easily imagine them being real.
“He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Sheer vertigo.”
Jimmy and Snowman. They're the same person. Mostly. Snowman lives in the present where the world's already ended. The book follows him as he makes a journey looking for extra supplies. When he reminisces and the focus shifts to the past he's Jimmy. Crake was his best friend, Oryx his love. This is about as boring and generic as you can get with a book description and yet it's as discriptive as I want to get. The way Atwood reveals her story is straight up masterful. Each time she peels back a layer the story becomes richer and more vibrant. And just when you're ready to fling yourself off a roof from how depressed you are she hands you a nugget of hope.
Now for the downsides. If you're looking for a fast paced book this is not it. There's no fight scenes or villians to destroy or what have you. None of this stopped me from loving it.
This is the quote that both made the book and scared the daylights out of me. And in many ways is the best summary of the book I could come up with.
"Let's suppose for the sake of the argument," said Crake one evening, "that civilization as we know it gets destroyed. Want some popcorn?"
"Is that real butter?" said Jimmy.
"Nothing but the best at Watson-Crick" said Crake. "Once it's flattened, it could never be rebuilt."
"Because why? Got any salt?"
"Because all the available surfact metals have already been mined," said Crake."Without which, no iron age, no bronze age, no age of steel, and all the rest of it. There's metals farther down, but the advanced technology we need for extracting those would have been obliterated."
"It could be put back together," said Jimmy, chewing. It was so long since he'd tasted popcorn this good. "They'd still have the instructions."
"Actually not," said Crake. "It's not the like wheel, it's too complex now. Suppose the instructions survived, suppose there were any people left with the knowledge to read them. Those people would be few and far between, and they wouldn't have the tools. Remember, no electricity. Then once those people died, that would be it. They'd have no apprentices, they'd have no successors. Want a beer?
"Is it cold?"
"All it takes," said Crake, "is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and it's game over forever."
"Speaking of games," said Jimmy, "it's your move."