(Note: These summaries are pretty vague because if I were to go too much more in detail, I would be afraid of spoiling the major events of the books)
The Handmaid’s Tale
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Content Warnings: Sexual content, Misogyny, Abuse, Suicide, Depression, Pregnancy
In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic.
I really enjoyed a lot of the commentary in this book. It’s one of those books that seems really exaggerated until you really think about it. Some may try to argue that this story is unrealistic, when in reality women are losing more and more of their rights to choose what happens to their own bodies every day. It’s a warning in the same way of The Hunger Games of what happens when the government takes too much power.
I really enjoyed the dual timelines between Offred’s present and her past, and how it allows readers to get more information without a large infodump. This is actually one of my favorite formatting for giving backstory in books.
That being said, I think I would have had an easier time getting into the books in the beginning had we been given a little more information in the beginning. I found it really difficult to find interest in the book when I had no idea what was going on or why things were happening. I would have liked to have a little more background.
The other reason I think I had trouble with the beginning of this book was because the writing style seemed very impersonal, which made it really difficult to connect to the characters. That might have been the intended effect, because it was written in Offred’s point of view and she wasn’t supposed to have much agency. Still, I honestly struggled with finishing this book because of it.
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Content Warnings: Sexual content, Misogyny, Suicide, Depression, Kidnapping, Emotional manipulation
And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
I’ve seen people say that this book was unnecessary, and I can see where they were coming from (this book doesn’t follow the characters from the first book) but I really enjoyed it more than the first. It shows a lot more of the worldbuilding that I missed in the first book, and having more independent characters removed that sense of disconnect that I felt with the writing style of the first book. I felt more connected to these characters.
My major complaint here is that the end felt a little rushed and sudden. I wish we had gotten a little more time with the aftermath of the main plot, especially with the characters and their emotional journey. This might just be a personal thing, because I am very much into character arcs, but I felt they were left with an unsatisfying resolution.