So I just swiftly re-read Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood, after finishing the tales of God’s Gardeners found in Year of the Flood and I decided that while I enjoyed this one, I found Jimmy/Snowman about as hard to relate to as the average Judd Apatow man/boy. he doesn’t take responsibility for his life, for his actions, or for his relationships, and even his nurturing care of the Children of Crake is haphazard and mostly aimed at his own survival, whether mental or physical.
I would have to agree with other reviewers who have complained about Oryx’s empty shell of a character, reduced to a snapshot of an abused child and a sound-clip or two. But as I read it, that was a part of Atwood’s masterful control of her characters. We were seeing Oryx through the eyes of Jimmy/Snowman, and so we could only see her in the shallow dimensions that he wanted to see her. As far as unreliable narrators go, this one obviously just wanted to believe what he wanted to believe about his friend Crake and his relationship with Oryx. A boy who skated through life thinking that it was owed to him (why was he so upset about Amanda Payne when he was bored with her anyway?) and then stumbled into a situation beyond his ken.
But…it was thought-provoking, as most of Atwood’s work (and I don’t mean the apocalypse brought on by rampant consumerism and evil gene splicers, I mean the people stuff.) For example, is Crake’s final act one of suicide, or is he intending to sit and laugh with Jimmy as the world burns? And my favorite quote of all: “Watch out for art, Crake used to say. As soon as they start doing art, we’re in trouble. symbolic thinking of any kind would signal downfall, in crake’s view. Next they’d be inventing idols, and funerals, and grave gods, and the afterlife, and sin and Linear B, and kings, and then slavery and war.” It’s odd, but I found Atwood’s strange new human race heartening, that they too felt the need to worship, to revere and to create in turn.