This book is excellent. But I suppose I should say more than that…
I read and loved The Blind Assassin a couple of years ago so I expected the same brilliant writing. I was not disappointed. Atwood is quite brilliant at writing simple and devastating sentences and The Handmaid’s Tale is beautifully told.
However, I knew nothing about the plot before diving in and that’s where I was surprised. I’m not sure how I managed to not be aware of it but, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel. Dystopian novels are not really within my usual reading genres, mostly because I tend to avoid the really popular trends of the book world. So this was my very first novel in this genre and I suspect that it has set the bar impossibly high for any others that I might read in the future.
While the book doesn’t take place in any current society; all the things that make it dystopian are individually things that I could see happening for real in the not too distant future. Which is what made the book truly terrifying. The fact that small, almost imperceptible (or at least, easy to ignore) changes could lead to a horrible and twisted reality really freaked me out. Some of the situations described in the are really disturbing and found they stayed with me long after I finished the book.
I don’t want to reveal anything about the plot but I can guarantee that the book is unbelievably gripping and really hard to put down. It is brilliant and engrossing but also really upsetting and thought-provoking. Most definitely highly recommended.
Just one of the many passages I liked (no spoilers):
“Is that how we lived then? But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now. We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”