I finished 2 books in one day, VERY different types of books. This one first.
I read this as a buddy read with my GR friend Laura K. and we managed toI finished 2 books in one day, VERY different types of books. This one first.
I read this as a buddy read with my GR friend Laura K. and we managed to stay very much in sync and I enjoyed reading it together.
I think this is a great book, with all questions finally answered, some not until toward the end for me, some earlier, all of them with hints along the way.
I’m giving it 4 vs. 5 stars because the story within the story within the story and even the story within the story could have been limited to many fewer pages and still been effective, and the book would have been more pleasurable for me to read. While this speculative fiction story being told and the story in the book within the book gave many clues to what happened to these characters, and did hold my attention for that reason, they were much less interesting to read than Iris narrating her present and past life, and the lives of people in her life. I trudged through The Blind Assassin chapters, even though as the book went on I saw more and more of what information they were providing. I looked forward to reading the Iris parts, both present and past.
I’d had the book on my speculative fiction shelf but I took it off when I realized the only speculative fiction part was a story being told by real people in the real world as a story within a story within a story, the first two stories being historical fiction with a tinge of mystery. I consider this a historical fiction book. It’s also a mystery in that it kept me in an always-guessing frame of mind.
There were so many quotes that I loved – if I’d selected all of them to like, they’d have taken up much more space than any review – I’m not sure why I “liked” the ones I did and not others; time and convenience and whether or not I was near the computer vs. the phone or neither is the most likely common reason.
I had to look up the definition of probably a dozen words used, a rare occurrence for me when reading a book.
Atwood writes beautifully. I love Iris as an old woman. She’s wickedly funny, brilliantly witty. Atwood did a marvelous job creating her character. I can’t believe how her characters seemed so believable, particularly Iris.
The entire story is Dickensian tragedy AND amusing!
Overall, this is a very sad story, and the reader is warned about this from the very start. Death, death, death, trauma, loss. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Atwood does an amazingly good job describing the experiences of children who’ve lost a parent while young.
There were many twists in this story, many things to keep me guessing, and I got a kick out of guessing. I was actually right about a couple main things, but some I didn’t at all guess until the reveal. I think the entire book was skillfully crafted. The construction was full of detail but with no information wasted as far as I could tell.
There were some, I think, lovely pro animal rights parts, though they were overall done very subtly.
She evokes time and place and emotions so well. It’s a gift.
I’m still trying to figure out if Laura was high functioning autistic, just very sensitive, or simply a woman ahead of her time and situation. I’d think the latter but it’s unusual for adults to tell an older sibling to always take care of the younger, especially from such a young age. Whatever her state of mental health, to me she’s a main heroine here, along with Iris, eventually, and when compared to everyone around her, Laura struck me as the most sane.
All the way through what most interested me was how and why and when Iris would finally find her voice and know her own mind and also when she’d start sticking up for herself. I like the unreliable narrator aspect to the book, even though here it was done in a different way than in most stories.
I was always guessing who/what blind assassin in the main story is. I came to the conclusion that it was Iris. With Laura, maybe with Richard, though not in the way I was rooting for.
I felt a lot of gratification that Iris outlived Winifred. Winifred and particularly Richard are villains truly worth loathing. I was also very angry at Iris’s and Laura’s father, even knowing the times and cultural differences.
I felt so happy that Sabrina would read Iris’s account. What a legacy to leave! I still wish that earlier in the story, Iris had reached out directly to Sabrina. She had chances. Actually, there are so many regrets for the characters in this book. I think that’s what makes it particularly sad. There were other options for them.
I love the description of how to determine intelligent life on earth, the only part I loved of the story within the story, working on a story: “It’s about a race of extraterrestrials who send a spaceship to explore Earth. They’re composed of crystals in a high state of organization, and they attempt to establish communications with those Earth beings they’ve assumed are like themselves: eyeglasses, windowpanes, Venetian paperweights, wine goblets, diamond rings. In this they fail. They send back a report to their homeland: This planet contains many interesting relics of a once-flourishing but now-defunct civilization, which must have been of a superior order. We cannot tell what catastrophe has caused all intelligent life to become extinct. The planet currently harbours only a variety of viscous green filigree and a large number of eccentrically shaped globules of semi-liquid mud, which are tumbled hither and thither by the erratic currents of the light, transparent fluid that covers the planet’s surface. The shrill squeaks and resonant groans produced by these must be ascribed to frictional vibration, and should not be mistaken for speech.” Too funny! I need to give all of Atwood’s books a chance.
I don’t think my review is doing the book justice, and I’m afraid my review won’t even help potential readers decide whether or not this book is for them, something I generally aim to do, but I see that there are nearly 5,000 reviews already posted at Goodreads, and many others elsewhere, so I don’t feel any great responsibility to do so. I’m really glad I read the book. I’m also glad I read it with a friend because, especially at the beginning, The Blind Assassin chapters might have turned me off from continuing to read. I love speculative fiction stories but not bad ones, and this is not a great one. The main part of the book is excellent though.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more