Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Fiction / science fiction
Rating: 4 / 5
I read this for my book club. I wasn’t expecting too much, because 1) it wasn’t fitting with my “reading what you feel called to read” plan, and 2) I’ve read two other books by Atwood, and although they were decent, I felt they were lacking something. This book is probably my favorite of hers that I’ve read. I still felt like it was missing something to a certain extent, but I felt less that way after finishing it. I did like the way it ended.
For those who somehow don’t already know about this book, it’s dystopia that’s actually set in the past (it was published in 1985, but by that point in the book’s own timeline, things were already starting to go down). The main features of the new regime are totalitarianism (of course), heavy surveillance (I guess this goes along with totalitarianism), and super rigid gender roles. And lots of sexism. It’s pretty bleak.
For me, it wasn’t scary in the way of “oh I’m so worried something like this could actually happen” (although, knock on wood, why not). It was the parts that reminded me of things that already happen in my life that were the most disturbing. I think the most unsettling scene of the book was where the main character simultaneously has her bank account frozen and is fired from work at gunpoint because women were no longer allowed property or work, and her husband was like, “o cmon is just a job u kno ill always take care of u babe.” Ughhhhh. Yeah. Unfortunately, I feel like that was super realistic. I think this book is so impactful for many readers not because they’re scared of the future it presents but because elements of it remind them of how things stand currently.
Atwood is not a great world builder here, although I guess she thought it was somewhat unnecessary as her purposes here are more about the concept than the plot, and she pays special attention to mood and tone. And that she does well. It’s an ominous feeling book.
Overall, it’s a worthwhile book. I am definitely looking forward the book club discussion for this one!