The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
A Grim Dystopia, but Realistic Nonetheless
It’s not often that a book grips me so much that I pick it up again and again, wanting to know, no, needing to know how it finishes. I read it in three days, which is real fast for me nowadays.
I selected this book because I heard bits and pieces about the story because of the television format. Unfortunately, I’m unable to watch the TV show, since it’s hosted by a provider I’m not subscribed to. But at least I got to enjoy the book.
The story is about Offred, who is the handmaid to a Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. Offred’s task is to bear him a child, for Serena to raise as her own.
During the book, you learn about Offred’s life. Her former husband, her first child, her mother, her former best friend, Moira. Each of them has their own story, and they are well interwoven into the main story.
The world is very well built, with several layers of authority. From the Commanders to their wives, to the Aunts who supervise the handmaids, and the secret service of Eyes, who are an ever-ominous and ever-present threat.
As Relevant in 1985 as Today
Sometimes I would get bored by Offred’s reminiscing of days before, but I understand why they are in the book. It shows the stark contrast with how the world is in the Gilead society. For the rest, I believed everything. This is definitely how a society could be formed, no matter how repulsive it is. I was startled by how accurate Margaret Atwood’s predictions were, regarding how Islamic terrorists would be blamed for the first attacks, or how people saw plastic packaging. Today, in 2019, almost thirty-five years after the original novel came out, these themes are still relevant.
What I love most about this book, is that several times I have tried to write in this genre too. I have stories in this setting, though every time I got stuck at some point and didn’t know how to get it to a satisfactory ending. I loved reading an official literary work with a decent setting, a very detailed world around it, and a conclusion. Maybe I can use it as inspiration for my own works of fiction.
No Erotica, but oh so Interesting
If you’re interested in reading dystopian fiction, this is a definite recommend. Don’t read it if you’re put off by misogyny, and it’s not a feminist read per se. It’s also not an erotic read. Yes, there are sex scenes, but they’re as cold and repulsive as the world around Offred.
It is an interesting read, though, especially since it feels like something that could happen today. No, I hope not, but with today’s politics, you never seem to know what might happen.
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