I’ve been looking forward to reading this book. I haven’t seen the show but I’ve heard so many good things about this story and how rich the description of the world is in that novel. Finally, I decided to make room for it in January.
First thing first, the formatting of the writing in this book is quite strange. In particular, the author Margaret Atwood doesn’t use quotation marks to specify someone’s replies. This is not that big of a deal but it does require some getting used to as it is not always clear that someone is talking.
The story is told by Offred who used to live an ordinary life until the world turned upside down. She was forced to become a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. As a Handmaid, her sole responsibility is to bear children. On her fertile days, she is being raped by the head of the household aka Commander to which she is assigned. Upon birth, the child is taken away from the Handmaid and given to the wife of the Commander. At that moment, the Handmaid is transferred to another household where she has to perform the same service.
Given a very interesting world that Atwood placed her characters in, I found the book to be really slow. Especially the first half of it. Little details are fed to the reader by spoon with no real plot twist. At some point, I wondered if I should continue reading and if there will ever be any action. When the story does pick up, it happens almost unnoticeable yet the author is trying to shock you with it. However, it doesn’t work and the drag continues. At which point, I just wanted to be done with it.
Another issue that I had with this book is that there are absolutely no details given to how this world came about. The main character still remembers the days when she lived a normal life. Until one day, all of the women’s right were stripped and taken away. At which point, things became as they are in Gilead. It just not very believable. There are also little details about how Offred felt about her husband who she never saw again after they were caught and brought to Gilead. They also had a daughter that was taken away from them. While Offred talks about it at some point, it still appears to be flat and difficult to connect with.
The book has somewhat an interesting ending which is open to interpretation. Moreover, Margaret Atwood wrote another book “The Testament” which is reportedly a continuation of the first one. While I did not fully enjoy “The Handmaid’s Tale”, I am going to read the “The Testament” in hopes that some of the questions that are left unanswered in the first book are fulfilled in the second.