Weekly Geeks #12 Mini Review - Dystopian Novels

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of Aldous Huxley's utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Snowman is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes - into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.
Seems to me that these two novels together make a perfect duo for doing a mini-review and answering your questions. I hope I managed to answer everyone's questions well. This is only the first of my mini-review-answer blogs - so keep your eyes open for my next post when I answer some more questions.
And I'd also like to thank everyone for reading and submitting questions for me, this has been really fun and has helped me look at these books in ways that I didn't before. Happy Reading!

Alessandra asked...
Hi! The only book in your list that I've read is Brave New World. How did you like it? How do you compare it to other dystopian novels, like 1984, if you've read it?
I really loved Brave New World, it is a book I had read in junior high and decided to pick up again when I was assigned a multi-part project in which we had to dissect a novel commonly used in the High School curriculum.
Brave New World has always been compared with George Orwell’s 1984, which is really funny considering that Orwell was a student of Huxley’s at Eton University. The two books seem much the same, but they are much more opposites. Brave New World was based on never-ending satisfaction, while in the world of 1984 punishment was used to improve society. Huxley wrote about banning all books to control the thoughts of people, but Orwell wrote of a government that would re-write all literature to conform to their beliefs. The other main difference is that the people in Brave New World are conditioned to behave correctly using science and psychology while in 1984 the characters are conditioned to act a certain way by threat of violence or death.

Bibliolatrist said...
Of these ten books, which was your favourite and why?

Of them all Brave New World would be my favourite (with Oryx and Crake so, so close behind). Brave New World has always struck a note with me, because this bizarre world that Huxley created is similar to ours and that's truly scary. Commercialism and materialism forced upon citizens, loose sexual values, designer babies, thought control/behaviour modification and the terrible treatment of people considered different or undesirable (written as sci-fi, but seems more like non-fiction to me)

Chris said...
Since you have 2 dystopian novels on your list: Oryx and Crake & Brave New World, how did they compare?

Yikes ... to me these two books were so dissimilar that it would be impossible for me to compare them. Brave New World was about the individual's need to fit in or break away from society and it's expectations. The ruling government has decided that "you must live, be, think this was" in order to have peace and harmony in the world. Whatever displeases you must disappear. Huxley really examines how horrible the consequences would be of living in a utopia. Oryx and Crake is the vision of what happens when a utopian society fails. Jimmy known as Snowman grew up in a society where the deserving and valuable citizens lived in idealized gated communities, while the undesirables (or individual thinkers) lived in the outlands known as Pleeblands. But utopia self-destructed and the Snowman must make his way alone in the wastelands that the world has become. Atwood seems to be trying to show just how dangerous it can be to try and create the perfect society, with a hidden message about the dangers to our eco-system by our ever-increasing need for higher technology. One similarity between the two novels is the advances in bio-engineering forced evolution onto humans, rather than allowing nature to takes its own course.

Maree said...
What did you think of the end of Oryx and Crake? Did it end too abruptly for you; did you want to know what happened next? (It's one of my favourite books)

Ahhh that's what I thought about for nearly a week after finishing Oryx and Crake. I enjoyed the ending and felt that it fit the story overall, so the abruptness didn't bother me so much. But (big but) I found myself wishing there was a sequel, I had become so enmeshed in Snowman's world that I really craved more. Alas I will have to be happy with re-reads or just revisiting my favourite scenes.

Julie said...
After reading Oryx & Crake, will you ever eat chicken nuggets again? ;-) And what did you think about the game Extinctathon? Would you ever want to play it?

OMG that was so gross, seriously the idea of a bunch of feathered drumsticks walking around ... ewwww. To answer your question, I never have eaten chicken (I'm not vegan, I just don't like the taste of chicken) but if I was a chicken eater - I probably would vomit at the sight of chicken nuggets after reading about ChickieNobs. As for Extinctathon, although it seems like a great way to work out your memory muscles, I thought it was pretty morbid. And seeing that I have trouble remembering where my car keys are - I'd suck.

Nari @ The Novel World said...
My questions run the same as Chris above, how would you compare Brave New World to Oryx and Crake? How do you feel about Atwood's description of the fall of the world, do you see it as something that could potentially happen?

After reading about how the end came in Oryx and Crake it really made me think about how dangerous it is when such intelligent humans mess around with science as a plaything. Although the society that Atwood described was clearly going to self-destruct eventually anyway, the experimental destruction really made me consider how much we know about our own society and if a similar thing may happen to us "in the name of science, technology, advancement of humans or simple curiosity"

Dewey said...
Several people have told me that Oryx and Crake is the only Atwood novel they dislike. But I liked it just fine. If you've read lots of Atwood, how did you feel about the fact that this book was such a different genre from what Atwood usually writes?

All of the Atwood fans I know have asked me how on earth I enjoyed Oryx and Crake - my response has been to ask what the first Atwood novel they read was. It usually turns out that they read Edible Woman, Robber Bride or Lady Oracle. This seems to reveal to me that they have found a comfort zone when reading Atwood - as these stories are all about women and personal struggles. For me I had read Handmaids Tale, Oryx and Crake and then Robber Bride so the change of genre and even the change from female perspective to male was not that shocking.

bkclubcare said...
I've not read A Brave New World but I see you had to read it in school and then re-read it recently? What was the difference for you in how you related to it, if any?

During Junior High I read Brave New World and considered it a work of pure science-fiction, thinking to myself "hah like that would ever happen". But re-reading it as an adult, I realized how much of the science-fiction in the novel was actually a satirized view of our own society and exactly where we may end up if things don't change. It really changed the way I read fantasy now, I am more aware of what messages authors may be trying to convey.

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Chris said...

Thanks! That was a great answer to my question.

I had a hard time eating chicken after this one too but have since gotten over it. I told my hubby about it and he said, "How do you know that isn't happening now?" *shudder*

bkclubcare said...

Thank you! It's good to know I picked a good one for my first Atwood (I read The Handmaid's Tale, Blind Assassin will be next.)

Julie said...

Nice post! O&C was my second Atwood. My first was Cat's Eye, which was so different from O&C that they might as well have been written on different planets. Impressive that they were written by the same person. Makes me want to read more Atwood.

John Mutford said...

Just recently I pitted Huxley against Robertson Davies in my Wednesday Compares-- and he lost pretty badly.

Kim said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I just wanted to let you know that I have answered your questions that you left for me!

Joy Renee said...

I've owned acopy of Oryx and Crake for several years. Bought it at a Friend's of the Library sale. My husband read it last summer while the library was shut down and told me that it was my type of story. He said he couldn't tell me why without spoiling it for me. I think I see why now. The Handmaid's Tale was my first Atwood. And yet I still haven't got to it. I probably would have read it by now if i'd checked it out instead of buying it.

BTW I still haven't received your mailing address for your copy of Still Summer. I don't know if you even knew you had won last Monday's contest by being the first to name the mystery book. I also worried you might have used the defunct email in my sidebar instead of the one I put in Tuesday's post. (I really need to take care of that.) Use: joystoryATgmailDOTcom to send me your snail mail if you wish to claim your copy.

Lenore said...

I love dystopian fiction and I love Atwood but I can't get past the first page of O&C. Gonna do it one of these days!