Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publish Date: March 16, 1998 by Anchor Books
# of Pages: 311
Buy it*: Amazon
(From Goodreads) Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
Rating (1-5, 5 is exceptional)
Quality of Writing – 5
Pace – 3
Plot Development – 3
Ending – 2
Characters – 3
Enjoyability – 3
Ease of Reading – 4
Overall Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood upends the United States as we know it and paints the picture of a dystopian society where women are once again second-class citizens. War is raging, fertility rates are dropping, and Offred, a Handmaid of the Republic in Gilead, does her best to survive.
While I enjoyed reading The Handmaid’s Tale, I didn’t love it. That said, the book itself was beautifully written. Atwood has a gift with the written word and knows how to create a story rich in detail.
I thought the pace of the book was slow. I kept waiting for the pivotal “so what?” but I didn’t feel like it ever came. The plot points were a series of rolling hills, instead of a mountain. Small events happened here and there, but they all felt disconnected, and nothing seemed to lead up to any one big moment.
The story concept is wicked cool. Honestly, I love the story idea, but I wish the execution had been different. Again, so much happened that felt disconnected. Details were revealed that served no purpose. Characters flitted in and out of the book without reason. I was left with the impression that the book was unfinished–a series of index cards that didn’t have a thread to tie them together.
I didn’t like the ending, simply put. While the cliffhanger is great for television, there is no next book. It just ends, and you’re left to make your own assumptions. I would have liked an epilogue or something to shed light on what happened next.
The characters were just okay. Maybe because I was struggling with the book as a whole, I never connected with the characters. Offred was kind of ho-hum. I wanted to like her and feel a connection, but it wasn’t there.
Mostly I was disappointed by the book. I’ve heard such great things about it, so I was expecting more. And while it was entertaining enough to read, its re-read potential is non-existant for me. I do think the story would translate well to television, so I’m looking forward to watching the series at some point in the near future.
Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale? Did you like it? I haven’t seen the television series yet–how does it compare to the book?
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