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Turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “A New Man”

Or, rather, it turns out that after reading both Justin Cronin’s The Twelve and Ally Condie’s Reached this month, I had one more apocalypse in me. Yes, I managed to get another challenge book read before the end of the year. Thank goodness the Mayans were wrong because I would have been sad to not even finish half of my list.

Oryx

Like Never Let Me Go, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood is a dystopic vision involving genetics gone horribly wrong. While the world of Never Let Me Go (being so close to ours) was perhaps more chilling, Atwood’s is more believable. Maybe I have been conditioned by movies such as 28 Days Later and Rise of Planet of the Apes, but somehow this future seemed completely plausible.

Oryx and Crake is also far more engaging. Even though Snowman’s passivity could make him frustrating at times, I actually cared about what happened to him. He also made me care about both Oryx and Crake, or at least be interested in their fates. Furthermore, the structure of the narrative, alternating between Jimmy’s past and Snowman’s present, was well matched to the story being told, giving it just the right mystery-adventure vibe to propel the reader along.

[No one…] was capable of appreciating how clever he had been. He came to understand why serial killers sent helpful clues to the police.

For that reason, although I think that The Handmaid’s Tale is the “better” novel, I enjoyed reading Oryx and Crake more (also probably because the subject of genetics didn’t hit quite so close to home as the subjugation of women). In any case, I’m eager to read The Year of the Flood, the next installment in what is a planned trilogy.

He has to find more and better ways of occupying his time. His time, what a bankrupt idea, as if he’s been given a box of time belonging to him alone, stuffed to the brim with hours and minutes that he can spend like money. Trouble is, the box has holes in it and the time is running out, no matter what he does with it.

In the meantime, tune in tomorrow for The Year in Books.

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