Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I read this novel earlier in the year (as I think many people did!) but as I’ve been ill, I’m only now taking the time to put down my thoughts on it.
Firstly, it was nice to read something that was dystopian before the YA dystopian formula dominated the genre! I started reading the novel because my mum recommended it so I really went into it not knowing what to expect, I had never heard of the novel before and dived in without even reading the blurb.

The concept is immediately intriguing, however, it took me a while to settle in to the book. I think this was mostly due to the punctuation and stop start feel of the writing. The first half of the novel is very quiet, lulling you rather than pulling you in but I don’t mean this in a bad way. The simplicity of it is why it works, it just took me a little while to get used to. 

The brilliance of the quiet moments is that any break in the routine became exciting or dangerous as the case may be. You become completely at one with the protagonist, taking up space in her head, so you feel her fear or happiness that much more. I would really rather not write any spoilers so it’s difficult to fully explain myself. But you become a part of the regime while reading and you begin to share a conscious with the protagonist so that you completely understand her feelings and motives.

Like I said earlier, the concept is intriguing but it is also terryfying and, as is the case with most dystopian, dangerously realistic. Being a woman gave me an immediate empathetic stance so I’d be interested to read reviews by men on this particular book. It is about sexism but also about class and money (it’s always about the money). I wasn’t exactly happy or sad about the ending , I was however, satifisfied.

If you’re looking for a fast paced action packed book then this isn’t it but I would still recommend it, it was beautiful in its simplicity just like novels such as Of Mice and Men. One of the disadvantages I think I had was reading it on Kindle rather than the actual paperback, I think being able to see it in its original format would have been beneficial. Also if you find yourself at all put off by the unusual punctuation and writing style…that will be explained in the end.

I highly recommend this book, I think it is one of those novels that everyone should read and I look forward to reading more by Margaret Atwood!


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