Book Review | The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publish Date: March 16, 1998 by Anchor Books
# of Pages: 311
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
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.



None recorded.

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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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22 thoughts on “Book Review | The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  1. I feel like this may have definitely been a case of the hype machine, unfortunately, and I am sorry that you didn’t enjoy it! The first time that I read the book was in my Religion and Science Fiction course in uni (RST 42 ftw!) about 5 years ago. I generally hate cliffhanger endings, but I think that in this case it adds to the overall sense of foreboding and the ‘historical notes’ kind of bring that to light a bit but an epilogue it does not make.

    I enjoyed reading your review! Have you watched the Hulu series at all? The first season ends where the book does and the new season is going into territory beyond the confines of the book. Margaret Atwood was heavily involved so it may offer you those answers you crave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t watched the series yet, but I want to! I imagine it translates well to television. I definitely agree that I was a victim of the hype machine. I’m glad you enjoyed it though! ☺️🙈


  2. Great review! Because of the hype of this book, I’ve been meaning to read it. However, I haven’t yet, because I would feel basically all the reasons why you didn’t love it. I still plan on reading it eventually, but I have a feeling it won’t end up being one of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was planning on reading the book, after I heard they were making it into a television series but after looking up what the actual show was going to be out, the themes (which I find irritating) turned me off it. The hype machine almost got me, but who knows I might read it in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was one of my favorites, but I also read it in a women’s lit class that I loved and got a lot more out of it than I would have had I read it alone. I reread it a couple years ago and still really liked it, but it didn’t hold up as well as I would have hoped. In my opinion, the show adds a lot more dimension to the story and will get you more invested in the characters. I hope you end up watching it at some point!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been putting off reading this for exactly the reasons you mentioned: I had a feeling it would feel like a lot of loose ends, I’d heard it had no resolution, and I got the sense I would struggle with it. So, I read your review with interest. Not a newspaper telling me it’s groundbreaking and wonderful, but a real reader giving their opinion. So useful these book review blogs! I’ll keep it on the TBR pile, but to honest, I think it’s going to be awhile before I pick it up…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It was interesting to read your review because “The Handmaid’s Tale” is my favorite book. I enjoyed every single aspect of it. The characters, the setting, the plot, and even the ending. It is interesting to see the different experiences people can have with the same book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You put my thoughts into words. I thought the idea of this book was really interesting and really wanted to like it but I thought the pace was slow and the characters were ugh. And while I understand the ending it left me like ,wow… That’s it? Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read it a couple of years ago, in high school, before it became a TV show , so I think I escaped the hype of it. However, I really loved it. I definitely agree it can translate better over the screen though. I’m eager to see it in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

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