I feel like EVERYBODY is talking about The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood right now. Like a lot of people, I had never heard of the book until the new Hulu series was announced; which I will be watching soon. I decided to see what all the fuss was about and get my hands on the book. When there is a movie or TV series based off of a book I always prefer to read it first and then watch. Without further ado, let’s get into this.
The story takes place in a dystopian future located in New England. The United States government has been overthrown by a Christian fundamentalist group that calls themselves “The Sons of Jacob”. The group sets up an Old Testament (Bible) style regime that strips the rights of all women and men who are not powerful enough. Women are not allowed to read, work for their own money, wear what they want or go where they want. Infertility is a major problem due to pollution and other factors. Healthy women are used as Handmaids for the wealthy, but infertile, wives of the highest ranking men. In other words, these women have sex with/are raped by these high ranking men and if they have a child they must give that child up and leave the house. This comes from the Biblical story of Jacob. He was a man with two wives, Rachel and Leah, but he also had children with their handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah. This was not uncommon for that time period. The story is told from the point of view of a Handmaid named Offred. Offred had a husband, daughter and life before all of this but she lost it all, including her real name. Every day is a struggle just to survive in this cruel world where she’s worth nothing more than her ability to reproduce. However, she’s intelligent and just might find a way to break free of her prison.
I have positive and negative opinions about this book, which you are free to disagree with. I really enjoyed how it was written. I thought the characters were very detailed and likable. The book had a good pace and was not boring, it’s one of those stories that makes you want to keep reading. However, I HATED the ending. It just dropped off and you have know idea what happened. It’s almost like it was supposed to have a sequel. I get that it’s supposed to make you think and fill in the blanks yourself but that’s just not what I like. Something I don’t understand, and maybe I’m just not a deep enough thinker to get it, but I’m not sure why this book is considered to have such a powerful message. To me, it was an entertaining work of fiction and that’s it. I don’t like to discuss politics on my blog because I think they’re awful but I don’t see how this is “just like” what we’re dealing with now in the United States. I do not think a future like what is portrayed in this book would ever happen. However, I don’t know the future so maybe I’m wrong but I sure hope I’m not.
So, do I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale? Yes I do. It was a very good read and I’m excited to see how it’s portrayed in the TV series. Once I watch that I’ll review it and link it. You may notice A LOT of book reviews over the next few weeks. I’ve been really enjoying reading and I’ve purchased quite a few new ones. If you’ve read this let me know what you thought about it! Different opinions are always welcome. Thank you for reading and have a great day!