The Handmaid’s Tale

‘One of the best dystopian novels out there.’

Summary

In this book, in a place called Gilead, everything you know is history. The country knows a strict regime, controlling every aspect of society. Households of a certain authority are lead by the Commander and his wife. Every household also has their own ‘handmaid’. This woman serves as some kind of surrogate for the Commander’s wife, because they were declared infertile. Handmaids live controlled and dehumanised lives, continuously being left in the unknown when it comes to news. Offred, the handmaid and narrator of this story, does everything in her power not to lose her mind. She grabs onto her past to survive what she is going through in the present. Cause there are a lot of uncertainties in the life of a handmaid, but one thing is for sure and certain: don’t let them get to you.

Review

I was feeling the incredible urge to read a dystopian novel some time ago, so that’s what led me to reading this book. I’d like to start this review by saying it was an incredible book. The world was put together really good and there was absolutely nothing left to question about the regime. Really detailed from time to time, that’s one thing, but it’s not a real burden in this book. In fact, it sometimes made the story even stronger.

Now, about the structure of this story. The book is actually a combination of two parts: everything happening in the ‘Night’ and all the other chapters such as ‘Shopping’ and ‘Waiting Room’. The latter often showed the life of handmaids and their daily activities, told from the perspective of Offred. They are written more objectively, like Offred is just stating everything she observes. But during the Nights, another part of Offred shows, the part that remembered her life before all this. The part that reminded her of her daughter and husband, and her friend Moira. Throughout the book, you’ll notice Offred is slowly telling how everything happened. A really strong and well-written part of the book, but it was really confusing from time to time. There’s no real chronological order in her flashbacks, resulting in having to put everything together as a reader yourself.

What I did really like – and very rarely see – was the intensity and depth of the story. Dystopias often contain a lot from life as we know it. But Margaret Atwood threw everything familiar out of the window and created a society feeling so real it’s just scary. That was really, really good.

Conclusion

I’d like to say one thing: I know this book is old. It’s written a very long time ago, and a lot of people have read it. But even though it’s old, its theme is still relevant nowadays, just as it was back then. It’s one of the best dystopian novels out there. Really in-depth, not a single detail not mentioned. It’s structure might be confusing, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Trust me!


Product information:
Written by: Margaret Atwood
Pages: 311
Publisher: Anchor Books
ISBN: 1328879941
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