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Tag: dystopia 2012 challenge

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

I know most people out there wouldn’t agree with me on this
one; but I thought Oryx and Crake was better than The Handmaid’s
Tale. This book was very nicely written and though I did think that the
plot slacked a bit at places, it didn’t stop me from being completely drawn
into the book. The mystery, the “what the hell is happening”-feeling
was just great. The only thing I hated about the book was that it was a library
copy, and some crazy person had underlined (with a bold pen) words like toga
and scamper and written down meanings in corners (which is worse than
dog-earing the pages, according to me, anyway.)  Sorry, not the point.
Oryx and Crake isn’t a proper dystopian novel; it is sort of
a dystopia in a dystopia. A short summary (from Goodreads): 
Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by
a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human,
and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive
Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a
journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush
wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took
mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.
I am not in the mood to write a proper book review, as I
rarely am these days. There were parts in the book, which were unrelated to the
plot and seemingly unnecessary, and I just loved them. See for yourself how
simply and beautifully the book is written:
A caterpillar is letting itself down on a thread,
twirling slowly like a rope artist, spiralling towards his chest. It’s a
luscious, unreal green, like a gumdrop, and covered with tiny bright hairs.
Watching it, he feels a sudden, inexplicable surge of tenderness and joy.
Unique, he thinks. There will never be another such moment of time, another
such conjunction.
These things sneak up on him for no reason, these
flashes of irrational happiness. It’s probably a vitamin deficiency.
A beautifully written book isn’t always a well thought out
book, and I get that, especially in case of this one – because it wasn’t up to
the mark plot and character arc-wise, not to mention, the slightly goofy
seeming scientific details. But sometimes, a beautifully written book leaves a
far greater impression on you than a well though-out book (hey, I said,
sometimes) and this one was one of those few books for me. Somehow (I may be
able to better explain how later) I loved this book.
If you like dystopian fiction, check out Dystopia 2012 at Bookish
Ardour.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

If you are looking for a very nice and detailed sort of review of the book, this is not it; but I could redirect you to a good one here.
The first dystopia I read was Orwell’s1984, when I was in high school. I re-read it years later now, and I still can’t seem to get over its charm and genius. I have re-read the Appendix, which explains the principles of Newspeak more times than I could count! Another dystopian novel (actually, novella) I remember reading was Ayn Rand’s Anthem. It was a good book. Only last year, I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and was awed by the whole concept. Yet, when someone posed the question: “Do you like dystopian fiction?”, I immediately thought to myself, “Not really”. I was so wrong. I decided to take part in the Dystopia 2012 Challenge at Bookish Ardour. And I am so glad I did, because for whatever reason, I would never have picked this book up otherwise. It is the sort of book that everyone should read.
The book Brave New World is written by Aldous Huxley in 1932. “Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of the World Controllers. In what seems to be a utopia or an ideal society, happy, perfect people are  created using a combination of developed technology and sleep-learning and such. Like in 1984 there is, however, someone who doesn’t quite fit in this society.
It is difficult, at times, to connect to the (sort of shallow) characters, but the story draws you in nevertheless. It is very intriguing that, what seems like a utopia, is actually a dystopia. And I wonder, what exactly would be a utopia?  The frightening vision of the future, made me really think about the nature of morality. The book is at times quite ridiculous, and at times hauntingly real.
It seems, Brave New World was inspired by a novel by H.G. Wells called The Sleeper Awakes, which I now can’t wait to read. If you haven’t read Brave New World, do yourself a favour and go read it! Now!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


This review is a part of the Dystopia 2012 Challenge hosted at The Bookish Ardour.

“A chair, a table, a lamp. Above, on the white ceiling, a relief ornament in the shape of a wreath, and in the center of it a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out. There must have been a chandelier, once. They’ve removed anything you could tie a rope to. “

About the book: The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by
Margaret Atwood, which was first published in 1985.
Summary: (from Goodreads) Offred is a Handmaid in the
Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a
day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words
because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a
month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of
declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their
ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and
made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her
daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. 
But
all of that is gone now…
My Thoughts: This may seem like a very halfhearted review
and I do not blame you for thinking that. I don’t usually tend to write reviews
about books I don’t like, unless they’re review copies, in which case I have
to. It’s because I am mostly unable to think of anything to write. But since I
read this book as part of a challenge, I decided to go ahead and write the
review.
I have seen this book compared to Orwell’s 1984 countless
times. I won’t try to tell you how wrong those comparisons were; I merely want
to show how wonderful I expected this book to be. What I got, instead, was very
clumsy writing; not to mention very little character development and an average
plot.
The book starts out painfully slow. The writing is childlike,
with short pretentious sentences, too many metaphors, an inconsistent narrative
and for some reason, no quotation marks. The authors tries too hard to sound
beautiful, scary, touching. Throughout the book, the reader is kept in the dark
about most important things, and instead presented with a whole lot of
irrelevant details. Till the very end you don’t get a clear explanation of why
the world is this way, what drove the characters and we never find out what
happened of half the characters.
So much of the plot is withheld for so long, and I can think
of no other reason why the author would do this than to attempt to keep the
audience intrigued. I wasn’t intrigued, just confused, slightly irritated and
sort of amused. The only reason I kept reading the book was because I had to
find out if the mystery ever ends.
I wish the book had a more intricate plot, or better
developed characters. The book would make a much stronger statement, if only
all the underlying themes such as gender, sex, caste, class and patriarchy
were, in fact, underlying. I like books that have a point to make, but not if
the message starts to hinder the plot and character development. I appreciated
the basic premise of the book, the world that the author has tried to create
and the impact she’s tried to make; but that basic idea was the only thing I am
completely certain I liked.

If someone asks me how I find this book, I won’t say I hate
it, because I don’t; I would just call it okay.