Handmaid's Tale, The
Good plot, and very well written, but incredibly slow paced and over detailed. We ended up forcing ourselves to read it and decided that's not the kind of book we wanted to be reading. Will finish it on our own time.
I cannot say I have not enjoyed its numerous delicate wordplays. The fact that this book is describing such miserable dystopia and yet having such a great authorship, is just wonderful.
This book is a much more plausible version of Orwell;s 1984. Which was centered around a dystopia that contained a hyper-misogynistic society.
Sadly, I have to state that, even being from a privileged gender (not considering being a non-binary), I recognized the painful similarities between the descriptions offered by this book and women of MiddleEast.
The last chapter was the most revealing. It visualizes how today's historians and academics, may express past's facts that underplay their horrifying implications. And how we underestimate how much of this book, has actually been, at best, the most civil norm of human history.
I loved this book, I believe it to become a memorable classic. And I highly recommend it to everyone!
The Republic of Gilead, the name given to the society that was once America, is a place ruled by a shadowy government of religious fanatics who have imposed their values by terror and lies. Women no longer have access to the things they once took for granted, like a job, money or even literacy. In this new construct there exists a strict hierarchy, and within that hierarchy perhaps the strangest and most precarious role is that of Handmaid. The narrator of this tale is the Handmaid Offred, a woman who once had a life and a family, but is now reduced solely to her biology: she is a walking set of sexual organs whose sole reason for existence is to give birth to a child who will then be given to the family of a high ranking political official, to be raised within the new system.
Offred۪s story is told through observation, perception and intuition. As a woman, she is not privy to direct information of any kind, but must glean what she can from other women, who may or may not be trustworthy. This method of storytelling is particularly effective, as it only reveals things in brief glimpses, evoking the very feelings of confusion and loss that Offred is experiencing. Atwood has always excelled at conveying the inner turmoil of her characters, something I first noticed when reading Cat۪s Eye. She is a master of highlighting the nameless feelings that make up so much of our existence and creating a narrative from the bare bones of seemingly trivial observations.
The events of The Handmaid۪s Tale are presented as a reconstruction, and thus Offred is an unreliable narrator. However, this is unimportant; it is not the events so much as their emotional and personal impact that truly matter.
One of the most frightening and subversive elements of the story is not revealed until the end, in the Historical Notes epilogue. It is revealed that it was not until the nations of the world had signed the Spheres of Influence Accord that these things were able to happen. In other words, it was not until world peace was declared that the U.S. was able to turn it۪s fury on its own inhabitants and create their rigidly controlled state.
It is these elements, the personal and the ephemeral, in combination with a frighteningly plausible vision, that gives this book so much power and makes it, for me, a 5-star read.
I had wanted to read this book for a very long time and when I saw that it was being made into a series or miniseries for television I thought I should give it a try before it aired. I will be brutally honest that I found it hard to read with the way it was written. It felt like I was reading this book for a report. I had to force my self to pick it up and read it. But once I got 3/4 of it done, I grew more attached to the characters and wished the book was longer. I will say I did not care for the ending because the story just kind of trails off and you are wishing the author wrote at least another chapter.
To explain the premise of the book is terrifying. All women no longer have rights and are seen just as baby making machines. The women who are at their fertile age are assigned into a family and forced to have sex with the male during peak fertile cycle. It is very awkward. You will have to read the book to know what I am talking about. If they do not produce a child they are assigned to other unpleasant jobs in the society. The women even lose their names and take on the name of the male in the family ... ofglenn, ofwarren, offred, etc. It is very demoralizing. I am glad that I did finish the book, and hope you will give it a chance too.
The thing you need to read before we enter Donald Trump's America, no matter how you feel about the election results, or abortion. Written so damn well. I've never read Margaret Atwood before and felt pretty ashamed by it and damn was this a mistake.
Note: I've written longer thoughts about this for Scribd, but they haven't been posted yet.
Overall: Oh, it's playing in the same ballpark as The Hunger Games. Or rather... you know.... the other way around.