Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
““Don't let the bastards grind you down.”
Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Book 1 of the Handmaid's Tale Duology
Genres: Dystopia, Classics, Fiction, Adult
Written in 1998, I wish I would have picked this book when I was in High School. I feel that this is a type of book that needs to be analyzed and discussed as the chapters progress. The story is complicated, and not because the setting is complicated per say, but because there are so many meanings behind Atwood's words that it is sometimes difficult to understand the point that she is trying to make. The Handmaid's Tale is in truth a scary book because it talks about events that for us are "fantastical" "impossible." However the author makes it very clear that all the events, the violence, come from real government and real biblical passages. What I just read is a scary version of what life could be, a prediction of what governments we might have, and the mentality of some people in today's world.
The Handmaid's Tale is a story of Offred. She is a Handmaid and her role in society is to breed children, however the child she births will never be her own. There's an act she has to commit, where she is mandated to have sex with her Commander, while the wife of this Commander stands behind her holding her. This act is known as the Ceremony which is considered to be a blessing as these Handmaids are the only women left who can actually have children. Women who can't or who birth more than once and the babies don't come out healthy, they are considered unwomen and are later sent to colonies where they're basically slaves for the government. The story is totally messed up, but the author does a really good job in detailing the graphics and the society that Offred lives in.
One of the best and worst things about the book is the narrator. Told in a first person point of view, you must know that our narrator is not reliable. She tells things as she remembers and goes back to the past to tell the reader her past life, and goes back to the present to tell how things are now. She changes events and lets the reader now " this is not how it happened." It all makes it very clear that were getting a first hand account of thoughts and events that are distorted to Offred's mind and rational thought. I loved this and hated this at the same time. The narrator becomes a bit impersonal at times and skips a few scenes here and there, however this is a clear depiction of how memories (specially in traumatic moments) work. Which in turn made me so intrigued about Atwood and her way of writing.
The ending is very open and I wish I could know more, I know that there was a second book which I might get to soon. However, I also feel that it is one of those books that should be kept under the readers discretion and imagination.
--- 3.5 stars ---