Oryx and Crake is a story set in our world, but not as we know it. The year is unspecified, but is clearly some time in the future. The reader is introduced to Snowman, seemingly the last normal human being left on the planet. He has survived a catastrophic event that has destroyed civilisation, and he is alone with the Crakers, a group of genetically modified people who Snowman is looking after. The reader finds Snowman living in a tree, half starved to death, mourning the loss of his friend Crake and lover Oryx. His situation seems hopeless – human interference with nature has left the world in ruins. The world has become ‘one vast experiment’ that has failed.
Snowman has been searching for food in the Pleebands to survive, but it is beginning to run out. Once they had discovered their likely fate, the people still alive had looted almost everything in their panic. Snowman decides that the only way to survive is to return to his old Compound – RejoovenEsense – to find the supplies he needs to stay alive. The journey is a treacherous one, with vicious pigoons and wolvogs seeking to destroy and eat his flesh.
Skilfully intertwined with the narrative of Snowman’s mission to RejoovenEsense is his recollection of his past, and how the world has come to be in this state. He tries to piece together for himself what has actually happened. We learn of Crake’s and Oryx’s roles in his life and in this crisis, and come to understand the full horrors of this genetically modified world that Margaret Atwood has created.
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