The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ★★★☆☆
Genre: Classic, Dystopian
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like 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.
I love dystopian fiction, so it was kind of ridiculous that I hadn’t already picked this up. But the TV adaptation finally got me to read it!
I was a little apprehensive going into this. It’s such a well known novel, plus I really didn’t like the previous Margaret Atwood I read (The Heart Goes Last).
The story and world is brilliant and also kind of terrifying. The set up is close enough to reality to make you think there’s a chance something like this could actually happen. It plays off very old fashioned views which are thankfully not as common these days but definitely still exist. At it’s heart is a strong feminist message about society.
One of the things I really liked about the novel, was that this dystopian society has only very recently been created, and Offred often reflects on a time before it came to light.
However, I did only give the novel 3 stars. Margaret Atwood’s writing just isn’t for me. The novel reads almost like stream of consciousness, very much told from Offred’s point of view and moves from what’s going on in her head, to what’s going on around her, to what happened in her past.
The negative points of the novel are very much down to personal taste. While I didn’t personally love it, I can appreciate what Margaret Atwood does with the novel and do still recommend trying it out for yourselves.
As the negatives are due to the writing style, I’m hoping I’ll love the adaptation. Episode One made a great start!