Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)

This post will essentially be Spoiler Free, however comments by other users may possibly contain information that spoils portions of the plot, so read at them your own risk. This book is the seventh one that I've completed for my 2018 TBR Challenge. I only have five left - can I do it?


What it's about:

In the not so distant future, fertility rates are at an all-time low, making modesty and the ability to bear children of paramount importance. The government has been overthrown, and the Bible is law - including its determination of sin. Inspired by the story of Jacob and Rachel, women able to bear children are delegated as Handmaids and assigned to a household for the sole purpose of providing the family with a baby. One of these women, known only as Offred from her assignment to the household of Commander Fred, tells her bleak story with raw honesty.

Why it's worth a read:
  • The ideas presented in this are incredible and horrifying. It's a fascinating and realistic outlook on what a future could look like.
  • If you are a bit fan of sparse and bleak dystopians, this one should definitely be a part of your TBR list.
  • More than ever, this book has some impact. With the Me Too movement and women's rights being at the forefront of people's minds, there is no better time to pick The Handmaid's Tale up.
Where it disappoints:
  • Have you ever read a book where the author randomly inserted large words into the text, where the rest of the story was written in common and simple terms? Isn't it a bit jarring? Well, it is here too.
  • The sentence structure is strange. Not only are things explained in a roundabout way, the sentences are also quite stilted in many instances.
  • Some of the descriptions get rather graphic for no reason. Is it a graphic description of a death? No. It's randomly about sex and sexual encounters, even when none of that is actually going on at the moment.
  • If you are wanting to read this because you have been really into the television series, then be forewarned that it is very, very different. The essentials of the first season are there, but the colourful backgrounds of the cast are almost entirely invented for the show. This is because we get to see things as they happen a bit more in the show, where the book deals with the environment after it has been that way for a while. It also is the only way to explain the depth and breadth of certain aspects.
Final Thoughts:

I didn't particularly enjoy this book. I thought the writing style was really awkward, and it felt pretentious in several areas for no particular reason. Although I haven't read a novel by Atwood before, I have experience with some of her essays, and found that her writing style was consistent amongst the two forms, but not to my taste. Watching the show as it has aired was my final push to try this book once and for all after being interested in the story for several years. I do still think that the plot was good, but it didn't feel developed quite enough. The television series feels much more like what Atwood intended to write. If you have to pick one, I definitely would recommend season one of the television series. But, if you are really into dystopians, I think it is worth picking up for the experience alone.


  1. I haven't read the book or seen the show but the whole premise does intrigue me. I've heard similar views on the awkward writing style so I may end up just opting for the show. Great review! x

    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one who finds her writing odd. The show is really powerful and I would definitely check it out.


  2. Ugh... even though this one has some interesting aspects, your disappointing points make me steer away. I hate when authors throw in big words just because they can, especially when they are words that the vast majority of readers will not recoginize. Stupid really. I can pass on the graphic sex descriptions as well. Thanks for the helpful review.

    1. I'm glad it was useful! If you're interested in the ideas, but the writing turns you off, then I really would look into the television series (if you aren't already).

  3. This books so seems like something I'd love to read. But your thoughts on why you didn't like it . . . if only ;/ It's such a great idea though! Maybe I'll give the tv show a try.


    1. If you're not sure about the writing style, you could always try the first two or three chapters. If you aren't into it, I can say that it doesn't change much from there, so you would be safe to drop it.