The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Book Review


I’ve been making my way through a batch of dystopian novels lately. I’d just finished The Circle and was so affected, so scared by what I read, I needed more. It’s like dystopia is a form of horror for me. The Handmaid’s Tale had been on my radar for a while and I thought since the series was out, maybe it’s time I read it. I don’t know why I like reading about the world going to shit. I suppose it’s so I can think ‘At least it’s not that bad!’

The Handmaid’s Tale is one that has genuinely scared me. It’s like we have such a lack of faith in humanity, we can create these horrible worlds where there is no hope, no good.

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one option: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first-century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

Despite its troubling subject matter, I found it surprisingly refreshing to read. Offred was a drop of insanity in an ocean devoid of it. She managed to keep herself and had just enough bitterness to see things for how they are and not how she’d been told. It would be easy to submit in that situation, but Offred had something to fight for, her daughter.

What scared me the most is that humanity fell so far and a fear of my place in it. Where would I fall? Would I be a Martha or a Handmaid or get sent to the colonies as an unwoman? There’s no good place for a woman in this world. It made me question where this hierarchy came from? Who decided what makes one woman any better than another?

I had a lot questions about how they got to that point. We only got snapshots of what happened but I want to know the full extent of the events.

The TV series on channel 4  won an Emmy and with good reason. I’ve only watched a few episodes because it really did scare the hell out of me. Hopefully, the series can alleviate any confusion I have. From what I saw, the casting was very well chosen especially Elizabeth Moss as Offred and Somira Wiley as Moira.

My craving for dystopia hasn’t quite been fulfilled and there’s still a couple of futures I’ve got to try. The Handmaid’s Tale has definitely earned a re-read at some point and I’ll definitely be reading more of Atwood’s work.

Also Vintage books have released a really nice edition of The Handmaid’s Tale in hardback. The cover is so simple, but it’s so effective. You know instantly what book it is, you don’t even need to see the title.

Featured Photo on Visual hunt

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