The Handmaid's Tale - A Review

The Handmaid's Tale:
I could not find a simple synopsis for this book that didn't give away the entire thing. So to sum it up: This is a dystopian novel, set in the near future, in the Republic of Gilead- what used to be the United States. The new society is based on extremely literal translations of the Old Testament and is definitely misogynistic. Younger women who are still hoped to be fertile are forced to be Handmaidens- basically a vessel for a child for an older couple to raise as their own.

I am really glad I got some recommendations from my facebook friends for books to read in this year. I appreciated this book and it is one I never would have picked up on my own. It has a little bit of a Hunger Games feel, minus the violence, but full of oppression. It was a bit jolting to read and I think I handled the violence of the Hunger Games better than the brainwashing and twisted theology of this book. The sexual rituals described made me shiver - and not in a good way. It is just creepy. They have these once-monthly rituals where the handmaid lies between a husband and wife, holding the wife's hands while the husband attempts to impregnate her. This makes it ok because the wife is part of the process- they are "one". It is disgusting.
I had a hard time getting into the style of the writing because the entire story is told through the thoughts of the main character and it is very staccato. Her thoughts kind of flit about from one sentence and jerkily on to the next one. It was hard to put together a cohesive story at times because she keeps flashing back to the night when she and her husband and daughter tried to escape. She flashes back to college days and her best friend Moira. She flashes back to time spent with her mother. It all gets a bit jumbled, but I still really got sucked in to Atwood's frightening and strange world she created. I kept wanting to know more. There was a consistent string of suspense throughout the entire novel, like something had to give at any moment. The handmaid was always walking on a fine line.
I have to say, I did like it for the most part, even though it was disturbing. However, I was not satisfied with the ending. It was very abrupt. Just. over. Those of you who know me well, know that I like a resolution and I didn't get one with this ending. I want to know what has happened to our little handmaiden!
And just for fun: Did you know this got made into a movie?! haha I have to watch it- if only to see how they portray Gilead! This cover is much more scandalous than would have been permitted in the  book!

Overall rating for the book: 4/5 - it kept me wanting more, but left me unsatisfied in the end, and it creeped me out.

Rating on the movie : To be announced. But I am guessing - bad.


Janna said...

Haha! I love that you are already rating the movie as bad. I didn't know it was made into a movie, though I suppose I shouldn't be surprised... I might have to check it out for myself. It's been a while since I've read this book, but I do remember being creeped out. I don't remember so much the abrupt ending, but those always have more impact on you. ;-)

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