On 24 September 2013, Margaret Atwood came to Ottawa to present the last book in the MaddAddam Trilogy. The event took place at the Southminster United Church, and the place was packed, a testament to the author’s fame. Margaret Atwood, all dressed in black with a red and gold shawl, talked about the dystopian world she imagined in the MaddAddam Trilogy. The story came to her almost in its entirety while she was bird-watching in Australia in March 2001 and saw the red-necked crakes, an endangered species. The author has always been interested in genetic engineering, especially since several of her close relatives are scientists. In fact, she has been reading scientific magazines to keep up with her family at the dinner table, and this gave her a good knowledge of the scientific innovations in this field.
Hearing her talk about the series made me want to read it, so I started with the first book, “Oryx and Crake”. It is the story of Snowman who lives alone in a post-apocalyptic world where the coastal cities of North America are under water, and strange animals roam free. Flashbacks show us how Snowman came to be the last survivor of his kind after an epidemic killed the rest of the human race. At first, I must say that I was a little put off by the main character and narrator, Snowman. I didn’t particularly like him: he is an anti-hero, full of flaws. He is lazy and cowardly, and he doesn’t have much qualms about betraying his friends. But then, as the story progresses, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done in the same situation. And the scary part of the book is that Margaret Atwood based her speculative fiction on real breakthroughs in genetic engineering. So the future of Oryx and Crake might become our future in a few decades…
Fun facts about the book:
- Jimmy chose Snowman as his new name, after the abominable snowman or yeti.
- The Oryx and Crake world is populated by genetically modified animals such as pigoons, rakunks and wolvogs.
- Amanda Payne is a real name. The owner won an auction to raise funds for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in the UK.
About the author and her work: Margaret Atwood’s Website
To read my review of the second book in the MaddAddam Trilogy: The Year of the Flood
To read my review of the third book in the MaddAddam Trilogy: MaddAddam
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