Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Blessed be the fruit

Confession: I first saw the tv series before reading the book. The Handmaid’s tale had been on my to-read list for quite a while, but it wasn’t until The Testaments came out that I really felt that I needed to read it now. I bought beautiful hardcover versions of both books. Did I enjoy the book as much as the tv series? Read it below!

The book cover

 

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs…

 

My first impression

 

It seems to be very much like the tv series! Some other things happen or don’t happen, but mostly it is the same story. That means that it is haunting, uncomfortable and maddening. Of course, those are compliments. Atwood’s dystopian society feels strangely real.

 

The story

What used to be the United States has largely turned into Gilead. A society that lives strictly by certain interpretations of the bible. The laws are extremely strict. Offenders are likely to be punished by torture and/or death. For example, women are not allowed to read or write anymore, you must be married to have a relationship, homosexuality is not allowed, self-determination is not allowed and the list goes on.

Because the birth rate had plummeted, the people in higher society are entitled to a handmaid if they cannot have babies of their own. That means that fertile women are ‘given’ to families. They are forced to get pregnant by the man of the house.

The story revolves around one of these handmaids, you don’t learn her real name in the book but she is called Offred (because she belongs to Fred). We follow her life in Gilead.

My opinion

It is such a well-written, well though out scary, dystopian story that actually could happen. The different characters and roles are so interesting! Like the Aunts, (the only women allowed to read), the handmaid’s, the commanders, the eyes etcetera.
Although this is almost never the case, this time the tv series is actually better than the book in my opinion. Mostly because Offred is more feisty in the tv series and more docile in the book. I prefer her more rebellious nature in the tv series. However, this book is definitely a must-read. The world Atwood creates is very believable, which makes it powerful and scary.

Conclusion of The Handmaid’s Tale

This is a really good book. If you want to see the tv series as well, I recommend you to first read the book because I think that’s an easier switch to the slight changes in the series. If you already seen the series, you don’t really have to read The Handmaid’s Tale in order to read The Testaments. However, I do recommend you will because reading is fun. 🙂

Verdict

Written by Roos Bergers