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Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: O. W. Toad Ltd.
Publication Date: 1986
Genre: Dystopia, Social Commentary
Pages: 311
Buy: The Book Depository

Book Description: In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets in which signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant because, in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before: when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

I’m sorry if this is a bit rambly. I am a bit distracted and this book is kinda hard for me to review without spoilers being everywhere.

My first thought of this book was terror. The world Atwood creates and describes frightens me to the core because I could see this type of world coming true. I think that was the point of her story though, to make people realize that they take their freedoms for granted. I’m not usually a fan of the first person narrative, but with this type of story it works, in fact it even makes it better. Instead of an outsider looking in, you get the first person view of this change in society and culture. The story follows a woman, I think in late 30s, who has seen both sides of the story; before the change and after. The story was hard to follow at some times because Offred tends to talk about her memories of the past in the middle of talking about the present. It gave a sort of broken up picture at first which slowly was pieced together as the book went on. It makes me wonder how the story would have been if it was written with a woman who was born in the change and having only known the world as it was.

As the story progresses you learn about Offred’s past, and how the changes started in the world. What would have been nice though, is more detail as to what is going on in the outside world, which was somewhat addressed in the historical notes. You begin to learn about the people she knew and the people she is living with. While I knew that Offred (like many characters in dystopia novels) was going to change and probably try to rebel against the change, her personal change with the times was not as drastic as I was expecting. But as I began to learn more about her character it was obvious that she wasn’t going to be that one really rebellious person.

I didn’t like the ending (which shouldn’t have been a surprise because I don’t normally like dystopia endings because I am never satisfied with them) mostly because I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT! WHAT KIND OF ENDING WAS THAT?! What made it a little weirder for me though was the Historical Notes. It put the whole story in perspective. It made everything… real.

I can’t really say much more than that about the book because I don’t want to give away details. It was such a good book though overall. Horrifyingly good. I highly recommend it to everyone.

My Rating: ★★★★★

(Emoticon rating system)