The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I queued this book shortly after the election, although I had heard of it years ago and had planned to read it. I decided it had to be one of the books in my PopSugar Reading Challenge for 2017, even though I did not know where it would fit. Having read it, I will be using it for the "unreliable narrator" category.
The first thing that stuck out for me was how much the author explored the origins of the dystopian world. This feels unusual. In most dystonia stories I've read the setting is long after the transition (Brave New World, Hunger Games) and no one alive experienced the old world first hand. Offred was already an adult before the fall of the United States and the rise of Gilead. She clearly remembers the way things used to be. For me, this made the world of Gilead feel more real. We don't skip the transition, the narrator recounts it for us to the best of her ability.
Its easy to sympathize with the narrator, an intelligent and educated woman forced into a position where all intellectual pursuits are denied her. The author grounds everything that occurs in Gilead in historical precedent, creating a terrifyingly real world.
The story ends rather abruptly. But, I actually like the way the author wraps it up in the form of an academic lecture. The ending reinforces the idea that the status quo is always changing. Even Gilead will not last.
I highly recommend this book.
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