It is possible to admire this book without liking it, especially if you are a female. We pride ourselves on how far we've come in terms of winning the vote, being able to own property and have our own money, to work, and to choose our life partners. But this book reminds us that everything we have gained could be wiped out in a few keystrokes on a computer. Most men wouldn't act to help us, and even our sisters would largely sit placidly by, fearing reprisal.
The book is frightening because it has a solid element of truth. As the religious right grows more politically powerful, we worry as we see the reduced status of their women. Are we standing on the brink of the handmaid's world?
The book is well written, the longing for what went before, along with the flat affect of hopelessness is beautifully reflected in the matter-of-fact, terse, prose style of the narrating character. You can see who she was before in the agonized personal memories she recounts in at times lively and evocative prose. And you can see who she has become as she repeatedly has to correct herself from referring to her husband and child in the past tense.
Be prepared for a very dark vision when you pick up this book. But it is a vision we would do good to remind ourselves could come to pass if we are not vigilant.
Writing is graceful, though dogmatic dotted in Offred’s otherwise lyrical narration. Story is well structured, concluded with a epilogue (notes) which clarifies further, but appears more like an appendage to undermine the ending.
Based on historical (real) conditions with author’s perspective and interpretation, I’d pondered if it were plausible when I cared about such dystopian tale more than I’m affected by hyped buzz.
I am honestly so torn. I hated this book, but I also loved it at the same time.
What stuck out most to me is that The Handmaid's Tale is so moving, elegant yet subtle, and so relatable on a certain level. At the same time, Offred is SO real that it's haunting. And that's probably why I'm also terrified as an individual. This is the first book I've read that's really addressed all the sides to a human being. I truly connected with its message, and I am hoping to dive into some kind of follow-up.
Final, few minor problems I had were the world-building and quotation marks. Sometimes, Atwood employs the use of quotation marks and sometimes, she just doesn't. I'm not sure if there's a reason, or if she just felt like it. Also, there is so much information regarding the society, but I was so curious, and I think there could've been more detail.
At the same time, the transition between different time periods is difficult. I couldn't quite place my finger on whether or not the event occurring was a flashback or currently taking place.
If you've seen other ratings, you'll know that The Handmaid's Tale ends on a rather open note, but I think it was pretty fulfilling and satisfying. It really depends on personal opinion, but it shouldn't be something that stops a reader from approaching this novel. It's worth it.
Looking back at my 3-star rating, I think 4 to 4.5 would better fit how I really feel. But I guess this approximation is a better illustration of the complexity of The Handmaid's Tale and its true meaning.
Jan. 25th/2018, :)
THE MOVIE IS V. GOOD & MUCH BETTER THAN THE BOOK, AND WORTHWHILE TO SEE - RECOMMENDED.
Ok, This 'Crazy', and scary, oppressive book summarizes or resembles, George Orwells, futuristic indoctrination of society in his 1984 novel. The story unfolds a stagnant, sadistic, regressive community, which sets examples of public displays of lynchings and out casting of infertile misfits to toxic-chemical, 'Death-camps' - for small crimes and misdemeanours as one means of controlling the mass populations: vaguely, yet uniquely parallel in structure to that of the Nazi German armed forces.
Other means of population & mind control included: a new formation of a completely uniformed, "HIERARCHAL REGIME", committed to ritualistic burnings of intelligence materials, food & product rationing, strict emotion control, specific impregnating & birthing procedures, religious issues, and depressing women into old traditional roles which reminded me of red tape, Communist China's previous order, and also mirror's that of North Korean's repressive, dictatorship State. However, in direct contrast and opposition to this strict, new regime: I particularily enjoyed, 'MOIRA'S', moxy, rebellious attitude and very fun/exciting character! :) .
This book also resembles 2 movies, seen: 1) The Island 2) Equilibrium - both of which are good and entertaining features worth watching. :) Lol.
Lastly, one cannot help but wonder or imagine in horror - what would happen to us - if our current day, advanced, free or privileged North Western societies around the world - reverted back into this Handmaid's Tale, of living day, reality? ;) lol... Overall a v. popular, unnerving yet creative, interesting and thought-provoking, read! Thx.
One of customers at the Snellville Branch recommended this book. I completed it in one day! The society and relationships revealed from the perspective of this handmaid is complex, layered yet terrifyingly realistically portrayed! I cannot wait to binge watch the corresponding series. Highly recommended!
Atwood's dystopian society takes a different perspective from famous authors such as George Orwell. I personally enjoyed this novel and thought the plot was riveting. There are high and low points throughout the story but still found myself struggling to put the book down. The dynamics and secrets between characters, ritualistic community, and struggle for life and individualism make this indeed a great tale.
Didn't love this book. Found it difficult to follow right from the start. Will definitely not be watching the series. Sadly, not for me.
Intriguing story with a somewhat unsatisfying ending. I hope rumours of an impending sequel are true. Now to find somewhere to watch the television series.....
This book is a masterfully written piece of social commentary. It was relevant in the 1980's, and it is still relevant today. If you care about women's issues, religious issues, and environmental issues, this book will have something to say to you.
I don't remember who recommended this one, but I'm so glad I grabbed it. I could not put it down. It was actually written in 1984 but has gotten much more press lately because it was turned into an original hulu series (and, before you ask, I'm not sure I'll watch it because I always tend to like the books more). The story is set in a totalitarian society that has replaced the United States of America. Due to dangerously low reproduction rates, Handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving. Although this is a fictional story (I loved reading the new introduction written by the author in February of this year) it is crazy how you could technically see some of the ideas playing out in today's society. It was a bit of a wake up call as to never "fall asleep" on the rights, liberties and freedoms we hold near and dear. I would give it a 9 out of 10.
A grim theocratic dystopia. I like the way Atwood presents the story of Offred in parallel with both the story of her previous life and with the growth of the repressive state of Gilead. If it’s hard to believe this amount of religious hypocrisy, consider that some present-day soi disant Christians justify the murder of doctors and clinic staff to prevent abortions, and blame women for inciting rape by their behavior. The author outlines a cause that supposedly underlies the accession of the theocracy, but clever politicians can engineer all sorts of reasons for the “temporary“ suspension of rights, leading to totalitarian states. And people can be led to strange beliefs. This book was written thirty years ago. Who at that time would have believed that evangelicals could vote for our current President?
Atwood's award-winning 1985 novel will premiere on Hulu as a 10-episode series on April 26. This futuristic dystopian novel is set during a time when a radical group takes over the government and instill extreme tactics on the repression of women.
I read this book soon after it was published, but about all I remembered of it was "The Ceremony." It seemed to me then to be just a weird semi-fantasy tale. Re-reading it recently, however, I am having a different experience. It feels immediate; futuristic, but two years from now, not 100. It is eerily prescient of the new view of religion, power, and women.
The setting is what used to be the United States, but is now Gilead. It is governed by principles taken and twisted from the Old Testament. Society is strictly striated and controlled. Women cannot work or read. They are divided into three groups -- "Martha's" are household help, cooks, etc in the homes of "Commanders." "Wives" depend on their husbands for their place in society and their standard of living. "Handmaid's" are assigned for three-year stints to Commanders; their job is to reproduce. They are put through a rigorous re-education program to teach them sumbission and acceptance of their holy responsibility to provide children for their Commander. Some are "re-educated" but some cannot get over the cruelty and injustice of their "place" in the new world order. This is a chilling book.
Interesting discussion. Such a relevant book today and most members really enjoyed reading this for the first time or re-reading it.
A great book club selection! Wow! I never had to read Atwood in school so this was my first. I have never really connected with most Canadian Literary Authors (likely because of A Can Lit course I took or maybe it was the cheesy movie I saw on TV years back), but The Handmaid's Tale was such a phenomenal read. I can not believe it was written over 30 years ago, you would never know it, except for the lack of technology. The themes are so relevant to what is going on in today's world and it is scary to think these things can actually happen. It is a great eye opener to how history has a way of repeating itself, as the everything in the book is based on something that happened in real life and many things have happened repeatedly since the book was written.
I am looking forward to reading more by Atwood.
This book is worth the read, it talks about issues that are still going on today such as: gender, power, and religion. Although I have not seen the series, I bet it is as good as the book, because the book was good.
I have had this book on my To Read list for many years and must confess that seeing it on the upcoming Hulu series list spurred me on to read it sooner than later.
After reading this iconic novel, I am not at all inclined to see it as a series. Don't get me wrong, I found the book well worth reading. I just don't see that a TV adaptation will add any value to it. The book stands alone.
In Gilead we find a strange society with conflicting values. On the one hand they greatly value babies, but at the same time treat the mothers of those children in a shameful way beginning with the decision to break apart all second marriages and press those women into service as handmaids.
The religion depicted in Gilead is nothing like the church I have known all my life. There is little love shown as Paul prescribed in I Corinthians 13 ("And now I will show you still a more excellent way." I Cor. 12:31b)and I see nothing of the principles that were ingrained in me since childhood to "do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God." (Micah 6:8)
It was worth the read, but sometimes this book felt like work. Atwood has a beautiful way of describing things, but at times it was like... okay, get on with the story. The book seemed a bit long winded for how much story you get out of it. Still, it's an interesting concept and because of all the description, the reader gets a real sense of the social etiquette and "rules" of this time.
The Handmaid's Tale is a very enjoyable dystopian story set in a hyper-religious and misogynist version of America. The ways that the female characters in this book try to gain individualism in a world that is trying to fit them into the single role are particularly interesting. For example, even while many of the characters' actions in the book are under extreme scrutiny they still perform punishable acts like stealing lotion or other things to be able to present themselves differently compared to other people. Another interesting aspect of Margaret Atwood's story was how people were driven towards information in a world where the amount of information held by different parties was so disparate. For example, the main character Offred yearns to read to the point that she breaks rules that are punishable by death in order to play scrabble and read magazines. Overall this book had a very enjoyable story and a very interesting dystopian setting.
- @CookieMonster of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board
The Handmaiden's Tale by Margaret Atwood is a truly amazing experience. I say experience rather than book because you will be fully emerged into this wonderful story and relate to this on a personal level. This story is powerful and terrifying as it throws you into a dystopian future where women are related to nothing more then categories. For a book from the 1980's it truly withstood the test of time as it relates to the problems of society and the oppression of women. I wouldn't be able to compare this story to any other books as it is so advanced that it isn't comparable. I would definitely recommend this book.
- @TheCollector of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library
This title is checked out very frequently by our customers at the Duluth Branch.
I read this book in two days because the premise was intriguing, and Atwood has a way of giving just enough information to keep the reader searching for more. However, no matter how much I wanted to, I didn't love it. I am not an Atwood fanatic, mostly because her style of writing makes me feel like I'm listening to a person's somewhat disjointed thoughts. Nevertheless, she has an exceptional ability to tie aspects of our society to a dark dystopia (kind of like in the show Black Mirror), and the last quarter of the book is fun to read.