Wednesday 26 April 2017

THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another one of those really popular books that I've never read, so I decided now was the time to do it. Especially since there's a show coming...

The US as we know it is gone, and is now called the Republic of Gilead (a shitty name for an even shittier new world order). The people who live under the many bizarre and controlled laws of the land have no real rights. Instead, they have roles with awful expectations. This is especially true for the women.

The women of Gilead are either Wives, Marthas, Aunts or Handmaids. None of those roles are a great option, but it's all they've got and some embrace them completely.

Offred is a Handmaid who's recently been placed with a new family. Here she puts up with the moody Wife who has many reasons to resent her, the Marthas who barely tolerate her, and the Commander who is in charge. And slowly, she finds out that even in such a strict society, there are people willing to take risks in the pursuit of more. Because if humans don't take risks, they're not really living are they?

This book was so many things: well written, full of screwed up worldbuilding, funny, sad, horrifying, intriguing, disturbing, interesting, effed up to the nth degree, packed with vivid imagery, and just fantastic.

The story is told in the POV of Offred. This is the name she's given after the religious brainwashing and training. We never find out her real name, but we do get an insight into the life she used to live, her carefree best friend, the man she loved, and the daughter that was stripped away from her.

Her existence is dull and awful, the stuff of nightmares, because she's reduced to being nothing more than a walking womb. Which is bad enough, but when you add that most babies don't survive and if they do they're given to the Wives, it's even worse. *shudder*

There were so many things I loved about this book and the deeper meaning that echoes so much of our society, and how there are actually some men who long to control women to this extreme. It's very unsettling, but also proves that even when people get what they wish for, there's still more to want. Even with total control, the men are as unhappy as the women. It's human nature to want more--friendship, intimacy, companionship, love.

Yeah, this was a great book. I also liked how often Offred shamelessly slipped into unreliable narrator mode.

This is a book that isn't merely read, but experienced.

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