I have FINALLY finished this book! It feels like it took me a million years…or it could be that the beginning of the year just drags by that slowly. Anyone else feeling it? You’ll also note that this was part of my January reading stack and I’ve only just finished it in February! So now I’m behind on my February stack and, ah, the pressure! I’ll either have to amend my stack or do some serious speed reading so this domino effect doesn’t affect the whole year.
So, getting into the book. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that this was not my favorite book starting out. I can say I got more into it…eventually–but it wasn’t an easy read for me. It didn’t help that I was simultaneously reading another book that I found to be much more intriguing than this one. I pushed through and I’m glad I did–and I even intend to read the sequel. (No spoilers ahead).
Offred is a Handmaiden in Gilead, formally known as New England in the United States of America. The constitution has been banned, women have been stripped of all their freedom and rights, there is no more technology, no more reading, no more sandals, exposed arms, makeup–nothing is as it was. The population is dwindling–people are choosing not to have children. And those who aren’t voluntarily choosing, are sterile. And thus the need for Handmaidens was born. They are used solely for the purpose of procreation and not of their own free will. Offred’s name used to be something else, and she used to have a family and a job of her own. Is this dystopian society she’s been stripped away from everything and everyone she knows.
Offred’s time is almost up at her assigned household and she’s yet to become pregnant. If she fails at this one task–her sole purpose in Gilead, she fears for her future. She could be declared an Un-woman and sent to the colonies. The Wife of her household is anxious for a baby too. So much so that she suggests something utterly forbidden–treasonous even, to make it happen.
Now, my main issue with this book was the way it was written. Not to say it wasn’t good, it was just difficult. The lack of quotations for dialogue, for starters, drove me absolutely mad for the entire first half. And the style of the writing was almost like random thoughts rather than flowing storyline and it was difficult to follow if you weren’t used to the style. One minute were talking about the present and in the next paragraph it’s a flashback without any real indication until you’re a few lines in. That is the main reason I struggled so much with it. Overall, I think it’s a good book. If you’re into dystopian fiction you’d probably like it. But for me, I have to give it 3 stars. The writing style just wasn’t my jam.
I had high hopes, though. Up until this novel I was firmly in the camp of “the book is ALWAYS better than the movie”. Now, the HULU series that I shamelessly binge-watched, is held in much higher regard than this novel. Now that doesn’t mean I’m done with the series–I fully intend to read the sequel, The Testaments, that will be released September 2019. Annnnd if you’re a fan of the show, the 3rd season drop in June (see what they did there?)!! I can’t wait! This was my first Margaret Atwood novel and I’m not giving up hope yet. I try at least two more before I make a definitive call.