Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 17th 1986
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In this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate 'Handmaids' under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed.
In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred's persistent memories of life in the 'time before' and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid's Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.
Why this book?
I picked up this book since I found out Hulu’s doing a series from it. At the time it seemed interesting. After reading it, not so much. I’m probably not going to watch the series. I read that the movie, which came out in the 90’s is pretty close to the book but I’ll probably not watch that either. Why? Well that brings me to my review.
It’s been a while since I have found a book that is so hard for me to review. I don’t hate or love this book. I think it was a decent book in terms of writing, but I hate that the story feels too much like the author was trying to make people scared of the future by making it seem like a documentary of some kind. It saying this is where the world is headed when I feel that it’s just too way out there.
I can’t say that I like this book because honestly, what is there to like about it? The prose? This story paints a picture of a terrible backward society. Women have been reduced to “breeders” except for people of status in the “new world”. They aren’t allowed to read or to talk to other people. After they are kidnapped, or captured they are sent to camps. The “teachers” are tasks with teaching fertile women how to be silent and thankful that they are now “special”. They are needed; in high demand. People can’t have children and even those that do may end up giving birth to children with some type of birth defect. Women are told that this world is better than the one where they were raped and murdered, but truthfully it has gotten worst.
In this new world women are assigned to a family with no children. They are practically confined to a room, and then they are raped once a month in hopes of getting pregnant. If they do, they are allowed to nurse the child and then must move on to another family to help them out. It’s disgusting. In fact, they didn’t even get to keep their old names, but are named OF the husband. So our main character’s name is Offred. When a woman moves to a new house, she gets a new name. Only certain women are allowed to get married and those that do have their marriages arranged. Other women who are too old, get assigned as cooks and housekeepers.
It’s a sad situation and I feel like Offred gets a little crazy during the story. I can’t trust that what she says happened really did. It’s like everything is just her “version” of what happened. In some cases she even admits that it didn’t happen like that.
The whole story is quite depressing and the end lacks any hope. To me, it’s not even an end. I hate a book that ends on a cliff hanger and worst if there is not a follow-up book. Not that I would actually care to read it.
I am giving this book a 3 star simply because it was an interesting book, but it did nothing for me. It wasn’t entertaining; it was just suffering.