Monday, August 4, 2008

The Handmaid's Tale

I read this book for three reasons. One, I got it at my book swap party; two, it’s on my list for the New Classics Challenge; and three, I've had it on my TBR list after reading a few different reviews. I think a lot of people have already read this book, so I’m coming to the table a little late for dinner, but I thought this was a really good read. It combined my secret love for the occasional sci fi book along with a good story. But this isn’t space ship sci fi, it’s more like “what if the world we’re accustomed to was turned upside down and a new government emerged based on religion where fertile women become ‘Handmaids’ and are forced to produce babies for elite barren couples?” What then?

Offred, the narrator, is a Handmaid who remembers her life when she had a husband and a job, and life was mostly as we know it now. Fast forward like 5 years and her family has been taken away and she’s assigned to a wealthy couple to help them reproduce. Women aren’t even allowed to read for fear that it will give them power; they’ve made all public signage into pictures. Creeeepy. It’s terrifying because one second you’re reading it and you’re all, “That would never really happen!” But then you’re like, “but, wait - COULD it??”

I don’t always love Margaret Atwood’s writing style. It can be a little choppy and cryptic. I think it’s on purpose, but it still bothers me. I spent the first 20 pages or so rereading each sentence hoping that it would help me figure out what the eff was going on. I like for authors just to tell me what the eff is going on in the beginning. But maybe I just think that I'm someone who likes knowing what’s going on, because I’m still watching Lost, aren’t I?? Perhaps I love a slow unveiling more than I think I do.

If you haven’t read this book, I think it would make a fantastic book club read – it’s relatively short, entertaining and after reading it you will be glad that there are others who just finished it so you can do the whole “What do you think really happened with the…” and “How much did you hate when...” thing. You know that thing.


mari said...

This has also been on my to read list for a long while. I was considering reading it for challenge as well.
Sounds intriguing.

Great review. Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

I read this one awhile ago. I enjoyed it. I rented the movie not long after and I think the movie did it justice.

joanna said...

I really enjoyed reading your review - you made me smile, thanks! :-) I will definitely read this one at some point, I like Margaret Atwood, although probably more for her ideas than her writing style. Oh and your book swapping party sounds like a great idea, I may have to steal it!!

Rachel said...

Sadly, those first 20 pages are what has kept me from reading this book. I do love a good dystopian read though. Maybe I will pick it back up!

Melissa F said...

I had a feeling you might like this work by a fellow famous canadian, Ms. Culver. I also have had mixed feelings about her books/writing style but always really thought this book was totally awesome and creepy. You should hear her do a book reading. She is super monotone and robotic...also somewhat awesome and creepy.

readerbean said...

I'm reading this as my September book for the New Classics Challenge - your review got me excited to pick it up!!! Look for my review in September and we can compare notes.