What I found most captivating about Oryx and Crake was the total sense of isolation that saturates the book. The narrative helps in creating this sensation of loneliness because the reader is kept ignorant of the most recent events of Snowman's past up until the very last pages of the book. As we go along, we have the two separate periods of narration â€“ Jimmy's childhood and family issues, leading to meeting Crake and school, etc. and then Snowman's present. As we get glimpses of Snowman post-apocalypse, we also relive with him his nostalgia and visit to the events of the past with each memory in chronological order. Until finally, Jimmy becomes Snowman and the two narratives find one another in time.
The entire book is narrated by Snowman, and aside from superficial insights into the characters of Oryx and Crake (and perhaps even the parental figures of Jimmy and Crake), his is the only point of view we experience throughout the book. When we see him react to creations like the ChickieNobs, we understand how to react. And in his adolescent period when he is playing games with Crake and watching bizarre porn and executions on the internet, the reader sees that there are distinct differences between our reality and his. While Snowman is not the most agreeable or inspirational character, the reader identifies with him, partly because we adore flawed heroes, but also because, honestly, he's our only choice.
The way Atwood depicts this type of post-apocalyptic devastation creates a truly haunting vision of the future, that is a little too easy to picture. The sensations of being abandoned by one's entire species can really be felt by the reader because the only characters we ever meet are in Jimmy's head and they are repeatedly made surreal and mirage-like. The Crakers only help in the most primitive way, appealing to Snowman's need to be with others, feel human touch, and to speak, to remember the words he used to worship (even though the Crakers have no understanding or context for most of them). Atwood beautifully conveys the emptiness that Snowman feels, realistically simulating the waves of semi-contentment and total despair at the reality of his situation. It seems to be a common trope of science fiction, but also the genre of zombie movies, to create a fiction in which the hero is alone, isolated, and facing the extinction of all human beings should he/she fail. In the film Resident Evil: Extinction, there is a similar landscape, dry and exceedingly hot, with supplies, food, and weapons rapidly diminishing while the enemy grows. Snowman's only enemies were hunger, madness, and the wildlife (including the marauding bands of pigs with people parts). Obviously, within the context of action films the main character, Alice, has superhuman characteristics and the audience knows from the start that she will triumph over her obstacles. Part of the appeal of Snowman is that he is Everyman, John Smith, a neurotypical, with absolutely no exceptional skills, no super-attuned senses of physical abilities and there is no certain prediction for his future within this miserable shell of the former world.
It seems particularly upsetting that there is no Hollywood resolution to this book, although it would be difficult to imagine how such a fictional space could have a happy ending. Even though the book ends incredibly abruptly, with many possibilities and questions for the immediate future, the resolution of the two stories into one at least provides a narrative closure and a degree of satisfaction with how the story concludes.