Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

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Prof. Arielle Lemoyne
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Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

Post by Prof. Arielle Lemoyne »

Title of the book: The Handmaid's Tale
Authors: Margaret Atwood
Genres: Speculative fiction, dystopia

This book has been on my to-read list for years and I finally decided to get around to it! I also just heard there's going to be a Hulu series based on that, so this is good timing!

Summary: The story takes place at some point in the future (though it was written in 1986, and I believe I saw that the author imagined it to be like 2005 or something in the story), and the U.S. government has been overthrown and taken over by religious extremists who impose a strict social caste system and take away virtually all power from women. The narrator of the story is Offred, a member of the handmaid class, who's responsibility is to bear children. It's told in a sort of stream of consciousness style, and we get glimpses into her current life, as well as her past, including how her life changed from before the overthrowing to after.

General thoughts: I've read Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake series, which has similar premise of being a dystopian future. The world she describes in The Handmaid's Tale is quite different, but they deal with some of the same issues. I really liked the writing style where we step into Offred's mind, and though it was hard to follow at first as her thoughts jumped around, once I got into it, I really liked how realistic it made the character and story seem. It was a really quick read as well; I liked how most of the chapters were very short.

Thoughts on the ending: I feel kinda disappointed not knowing what happened to the main character, or to anyone, really. I guess if the point of the story is to serve as a sort of cautionary tale or statement, it's not really relevant exactly what happens to particular characters? In other words, the author's goal was to create this world and give us a glimpse into it through the very personal perspective of a particular character, but the focus is still on that world, rather than on the character and her outcome. And since we don't have any example of someone who is known to have escaped the society, it makes it all the more dark and concerning. maybe? I'm also not quite sure what to make of the epilogue-like chapter at the end. There wasn't really too much additional information provided, and it was kind of weird to hear such a different voice from the one telling the story. Perhaps it's a commentary on how we view history in general?
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Arianna Stonewater
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:56 pm

Re: Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

Post by Arianna Stonewater »

I really enjoyed this book and I'm excited for the Hulu series!

The writing style was very interesting, jarring at first, but it made it that much better once you really started getting into the book.

I agree about the ending. I would love more, and I'm actually kind of hoping the tv series will give it to us
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