Author: Margaret Atwood
Published: 2006 (orig. 1985)
My Rating: 4 stars
Do you use LibraryThing? It has this fun little "Will You Like It?" predictor that will judge how likely it is that you will enjoy a book. Since I rate and review the books I read pretty consistently on LT, it tends to be fairly accurate. Until it comes to something like The Handmaid's Tale, which leaves it completely befuddled. My typical aversion to utopian/dystopian novels outweighed my love for well-written literary fiction, and the prediction came out as: "
LibraryThing was wrong--I really enjoyed this book. Despite the dystopia, despite the heavy environmental, political, religious, and sexual themes and messages, despite some skepticism at the validity of the dystopia that Atwood created, I thought that the statement made about what it is to be human was powerful.
This is the kind of touch they like: [...] A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want?The writing style was so much fun to read. Sparse to the point of simplicity in places, it was nevertheless deeply considered and effective: "dull...like the word thud". Through this writing style we get to know the personality buried beneath the handmaid's masked exterior. The story is told through bits and pieces, previous life remembered and pondered, detached observations of the new regime, fears and longings quelled for the sake of survival.
I want Luke here so badly. I want to be held and told my name. I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable. I repeat my former name, remind myself of what I once could do, how others saw me.I think what I really appreciated about the book was how thought provoking it was. The fact that it tends toward simplicity allows you time enough to ponder the circumstances you are reading about. Also amazing to me is the sheer volume of Margaret Atwood's published works! Where does one go next after The Handmaid's Tale?