Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
Published: January 1st, 1985
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 324
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge
Other: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository

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 fertility, 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...

This book may be written over 25 years ago, but as of today its story is still extremely believable en eerily realistic. It's a gripping story and the realistic feeling of the book is what make it such a good book.

The main character, Offred, is a Handmaid, a woman who is in the household to get pregnant so she can ensure offspring for the couple she lives with. This involves doctor visits and a monthly 'session' with the Commander, on a specific date to ensure the best change of the Handmaid getting pregnant, while his wife looks on. This specific part of her role unleashed a whole ray of emotions with me, none of them good ones. Handmaids have no choice in the matter and are to do as the rules say, so they can stay where they are instead of being sent out to work in the Colonies to clean up the pollution, most likely killing them. It's picking the lesser of two evils.

It made me realize how much freedom we have right now, and how much we actually take that for granted. Women's rights are quickly stripped away from the characters in the book and they are being used as property, unless it involved one of the elite women, who of course, had more rights. On average, women have few rights, if they have any, and it may sound hard to believe, but Atwood has a certain talent of writing it in a way that's incredibly believable.

I have to admit that I have a really hard time putting my thoughts on this book into words. It's a gripping story, compelling, realistic, and very well written. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a story that may introduce you to an adult dystopian novel, without travelling too far away from the YA genre or reading about less realistic societies. The Handmaid's Tale is a story that will stick with me, gruesome as it is, and it has made me curious about her other dystopian novels.

My overall rating:

Four stars for Offred's story - only the open ending keeping me away from a full five star rating.


  1. The book sounds interesting, but i'm not sure i will like it. Never heard of it before by the way. It has something compelling but i have track with dystopian novels. I will add it in my TBR though. Thanks for the review :)

  2. I've got this, and another book by the same author and I really do need to read them! This one sounds really good, and so appropriate what with all the dystopian fiction around nowadays. Thanks for the review (oh and I like open endings, so maybe it will get 5* from me ;))

    The Cait Files

  3. Aw, love the cover on that book! Much, much nicer than the one on mine. It's about 15 years ago that I read this book, but it left quite an impression!


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