The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

One word to sum this book up. Confusing. I’m not even sure where I was confused, I just felt like it took a long time to get going. I’m probably singularly the only person who feels like this and maybe it only highlights that fact that my brain is not literary enough o handle such novels.

I think part of what I found confusing was that it took a long time for the book to actually tell me why women were forced to wear and red and have babies with their Commanders. Kind of important! For the most part I didn’t fully understand what had triggered this governmental response. However, when the book did explain why it was the case, I began to understand further. I know Atwood probably didn’t say exactly what happened to begin with to allow the reader to think for themselves and wonder why this was happening, alas I am not this kind of reader!

What I love about dystopian, and I feel as though I must say this as I am currently coming across as though I did not enjoy this book, is the possibility of it. I know that sounds weird and possibly the reason why you wouldn’t read a book. What I mean by that is that it always shows just how much freedom people have, even in really bad places. That wasn’t aimed to make anyone feel ungrateful it just strikes me how easily governments could control a nation in these books whereas they may not be able to as easily if it were real life. It begs the question, could they? Furthermore it makes you wonder just how much they already control. It could be argued that certain nations can be brainwashed into thinking a certain way and that the media is bias, but they still allow us to think we are having individual thoughts. I don’t know, just makes me wonder. Maybe I am that kind of reader after all!

I did enjoy this book and although I am going to come across sounding incredibly like a feminist, I enjoyed the fact that women were almost more important in this book. I liked this because in ancient societies (and largely still in certain world religions and certain countries) men are usually seen as being better than women so it was nice to read something from the other perspective. It appeared that suddenly women were almost more important than men, in the grand scheme of things!

In this novel what I found interesting was the fact that it was set in America. Usually in dystopias it is place non-specific or somewhere fairly small. However the use of America surprised me as it is a major super power. Also to the rest of the world America looks like the kind of country which seems invincible and the kind of place to be immune from a controlling government. Furthermore the sheer size of it highlights just how controlling the government were and how impressively they had seized it.

Overall this book wasn’t my favourite but I certainly enjoyed it. I liked the dystopian element and enjoyed the names for different things, which I always think must be relatively hard to think up. I will read more of her novels in the future, although I hope they’ll be slightly less slow-moving!

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