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The Handmaid's Tale

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  682,035 Ratings  ·  35,801 Reviews
The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining bir ...more
Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Published February 17th 1986 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1985)
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Petra In all honesty I read this book when I was 13 and didn't find it difficult to grasp. People belittle the intelligence of middlegraders. If a middle…moreIn all honesty I read this book when I was 13 and didn't find it difficult to grasp. People belittle the intelligence of middlegraders. If a middle grader is interested in the book he is old enough to understand and grasp the meaning. If he isn't ready he will left the book unfinished.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Stephanie
7/7/17 I'm just going to leave this here.... fuck Paul Ryan.... but not literally, ew.

Sleeveless women? My stars and garters!

03/31/17. So, this Russia thing.... Am I right?

2/5/17.....just another giant step towards making this book a reality, like they always dreamed of.

Original review written in 2o12:

WARNING: This review is being written after I worked a 13 hour day, with another one on the horizon tomorrow, and a glass of wine and while watching the Rachel Maddow show. Current events have put
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Pollopicu
Nov 25, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess Atwood doesn't believe in quotation marks.. I don't think I've ever come across a novel yet in which there is no distinction between the narrator and the character. It took me quite a while to get used to that type of style of writing. I had to go back and re-read sentences again and again, which doesn't really lend itself to a relaxing reading experience, and it slowed me down quite a bit..

First 100 pages:
Really annoying..why? well because I felt like a juicy bone was being waved in fro
...more
Emily May

There are only a small handful of books that have affected me in a REALLY personal way. In a way that I always try to put into words and always, ultimately, fail. I have read a lot of books over the years and I've liked many, disliked plenty too, loved and hated a smaller amount... but out of the thousands I've read, there's less than ten - maybe even less than five, now I think about it - that honestly hit me so hard that I would go so far as to say they changed me.

The Handmaid's Tale is a book
...more
Jennifer
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(edited from a paper I wrote in college about the book)

In 1986, when Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, Ronald Regan had declared “Morning in America,” and society was going to renew itself by returning to the old values. The Christian right, in its infancy at the time, was rising in reaction to the Free Love, and the horrors of AIDs. The 1984 election gave us Willie Horton, and a reminder about how violent and evil society had become. Finally, even though Chernobyl happened shortly
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Kate
Apr 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's been almost five years since I wrote my review. I've rewritten large parts of it for clarity. The main idea remains the same.

Extremist Judeo-Christian beliefs have won America's culture war. Now women have no rights. They are slaves to men and the biblical, patriarchal society in which they live. The Handmaid's Tale is the first-person account of one of these enslaved women.

Massachusetts Turns Into Saudi Arabia?
More than thirty years have passed since The Handmaid's Tale was first publish
...more
Bookdragon Sean
Anyone else loving the television adaptation at the moment?

Sure, they’ve played around with the plot a little and padded a few things out, but I think they’ve captured the essence of this book in all its brutal reality. Certainly, worth a watch!

description

Book Review

I’ve been moved by books in the past, many times, but I’ve never before read a book that has emotionally drained me to such a degree. This is frightening and powerful. And sometimes it only takes a single paragraph to make you realise how much
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Michael Finocchiaro
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a tale of terror as well as a warning. The dystopian future she describes in "Gilead" which appears to be centered in Boston (due to the reference to Mass Ave and the town of Salem) is chillingly misogynistic where women are reduced to strict categories: Martha for housework and cooking, Jezebels (easy to guess, right?), Eyes, Angels (soldiers for the state), infertile Wives and potentially fertile Handmaids. It is beautifully written with lots of flashba ...more
Samadrita
Consider this not a ground-breaking work of literature. Consider this not a piece of fiction boasting an avant-garde mode of narration.
Consider it not a commentary on the concept of subjugation of the weak by the ones holding the reins. Consider it not a thinly veiled feminist diatribe either.

Instead, consider The Handmaid's Tale an almost physical experience. Consider Margaret Atwood a fearless deliverer of unpleasant news - a messenger unafraid of dishing out the bone-chilling, cruel, unalter
...more
Tatiana
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are not afraid to dive into the worst feminist nightmare
What a perfect time to be scared to death by this novel. It doesn't feel dated or far-fetched at all, thanks to President Trump.

Claire Danes is a pretty good match for this narrative.

Original review
Imagine the near future where power is overtaken by the religious right under the guise of protection from Islamic terrorism. Imagine the future where the roles of the women reduced to those assigned to them in Old Testament - they are no longer allowed to read, work, own property, or handle money. Im
...more
Fabian
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true dystopian classic. This is incredibly well written, & I think that is why it's fan base is so enormous & faithful. It made Entertainment Weekly's "Top 25 Best Books of the Last 25 Years."

The account reminds me of, and is probably written trying to somehow emulate, "The Diary of Anne Frank." This new vision of the future is one devoid the female mystique, with only one sex becoming triumphant &) dominating the other. This is misogyny to the nth degree. It is a holocaust that mi
...more
Adina
I. Night

I am lying awake in my bed. I keep my eyes closed and beg sleep to come. Fruitlessly! Outside, the rain is whipping the windows without mercy. My husband is sleeping next to me, oblivious to my struggle. I need my thoughts to go away. I need to forget that I just finished the Handmaid's Tale and its effect on me. I knew I should have resumed myself to the self-imposed daily quota of 10%. But no. I had to read the last 30 % in one go and now I can't sleep because of it. It’s like a shot o
...more
Candace
After reading 'The Handmaid's Tale', I can see why this dystopian classic has made such an impression on so many. This is a book that definitely hangs with you, haunting your thoughts, long after you finish the book. It is thought-provoking and terrifying.

The story centers on the heroine, Offred, who is a "handmaiden" in this futuristic world created by Ms. Atwood. As a handmaiden, Offred's sole purpose is to produce a baby for the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. Once she has served her purp
...more
Michelle
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone seems to like getting scared from time to time. We sometimes like to read, or watch movies and shows about natural disasters, psychopaths, monsters, zombies, and vampires. However, we like our scary stuff to be fictional and temporary. Watching "Battle Royale"? Awesome. Watching the news about a real murderous dictator on CNN? Not awesome... but just as scary. "The Handmaid's Tale" is guaranteed to terrify you—both in a fun, entertaining way and in a viscerally upsetting, too-close-to-h ...more
Victoria
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf-f, 2005
Not a very well written book. The writing itself is clumsy. It doesn't feel like you're reading a story; it feels like you're reading a piece of writing. Good writers put their words together for a calculated effect, but Atwood's words aren't just calculated-- they're contrived. In a good piece of writing, you shouldn't see the writer at all. You shouldn't see the structure of their writing. All you should see is the story. If you're seeing the deliberate cadence of a phrase, or the use of repet ...more
Matthias
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
Don't let the bastards grind you down.

There's a lot of talk about women's rights these days. There were times where I thought: enough already. You girls got it good. I looked around me and saw women with strong voices and a million choices. If they wished to go for a career, they could go for it. If they didn't, no biggie. Their liberty seemed greater than men's in a lot of respects. The power they wield over men is magnificent and often described as the greatest humanity is capable of: a woma
...more
Nathan
Jul 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Handmaid's Tale portrays a terrifying but very real and possible dystopia. At first, it's difficult to tell what exactly is going on in the handmaid's world, although her spare narration is filled with a deep sense of fear and danger. It's challenging but exciting to try to make sense of all the frightening details that she describes, and that's one of the things that made this such a compelling read for me--I was desperate to figure out what was happening as well as how and why things had g ...more
Lyn
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a brilliant, endearing, scary as hell book.

Told with simplistic prose and stark attention to detail, Atwood describes life in the not too distant future where the United States has been transformed through military coup into a totalitarian theocracy. This dystopian horror story is made all the more real by the bridge Atwood has created between the world we know now and the world that could be – the story’s protagonist remembers the time before the chang
...more
Navessa
I would love to write a lengthy review for this book. But I can't. Because I'm so emotionally drained after reading it that it's a miracle I'm not still hiding underneath a pile of blankets, sobbing.

This is by no means an easy read, but I think it's a book that everyone needs to read.

This review can also be found at The Alliterates.
Matthew
An interesting book to read right now for a couple of reasons. One, I just finished 1984 and it was very much a world like the one in 1984. Two, the storyline closely reflects the fears of the current political climate in America.

It is hard to say that a story like this is "great" as that has a positive connotation. I was very enthralling, but terrifying at the same time. As a man, I don't think this story has as deep of an impact on me as it would if I was a woman.

If you like dystopian, you mu
...more
Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος   Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο   Αμούν Arnum
Υπέροχο και σκληρό βιβλίο,αμιγώς προειδοποιητικό για τον κίνδυνο που διατρέχει κάθε κοινωνία η οποια βρίσκεται σε πλήρη ηθική,ανθρωπιστική και οικονομική κρίση.

Επομένως,πρέπει να διαβαστεί απο όλους τις Έλληνες!!
Επίκαιρο και ταιριαστό στην νέα τάξη πραγμάτων που μας υποβάλουν αργά και βασανιστικά.

Η αλήθεια ειναι πως το βιβλίο ειναι μια μαύρη κόλαση ένας τρόπος να αντιληφθείς άμεσα τα σάπια και τερατώδη γνωρίσματα του πολιτισμού μας. Του σύγχρονου πολιτισμού. Ειναι βιβλίο φαντασίας που βρίσκετα
...more
Lisa
Terrifying! But SO good!

Update in Year One Of Dystopia:

As long as you are allowed and capable to read, please do read this novel! In an era when politicians in the Western world are not ashamed to refer to pregnant women as "hosts", deprived of their rights as individuals, we must start speaking up against the steady realisation of dystopian fiction. Let these authors, such as Orwell, Atwood, or Ishiguro, stay great writers of fiction! Don't make them involuntary prophets!

If we don't oppose the
...more
Simona Bartolotta
EDIT 02/06/2016: Lowering the rating to two. I finished it more than a week ago and now I realized I haven't thought of it once. It really left me nothing.

"Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some."

I used to think of my reading taste as predictable. Well, at least a very specific part of my reading taste: namely, there are very few things in the world that I love more than I love dyostopias in the style of 1984 and, above any other, Brave New World (se
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
THIS BOOKS ABOUT ORGIES AND PEOPLE WHO LIKE ORGIES AND SOME PEOPLE WHO H8 ORGIES.
Joe Valdez
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi-general
My preparedness for the regime change taking place in the United States--with elements of the Electoral College, the Kremlin and the FBI helping to install a failed business promoter who the majority of American voters did not support in the election--continues with The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Rereading this 1985 novel was a metric for me. My first attempt, shortly after joining Goodreads, led to me abandoning the book, which ebbs and flows on mood and language and prompts the reader ...more
María
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tan duro que no podía leer más de diez páginas diarias. Era incapaz.

P.D Si no hubiese machitos escocíos con este libro, entonces significaría que Margaret no lo hizo bien.
Jeff
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
Zombies currently dominate the dystopian landscape, but back when Margaret Atwood published this (1985) Orwell’s 1984 was still in the rear view mirror, yet ever on the horizon, and Communism was still around, so Atwood had an “evil” totalitarian empire to model her fictional one after. Today, as our civil liberties are getting slowly whittled away, is Atwood’s maybe-a-future-of-zombies-wouldn’t-be-so-bad tale prescient?

Maybe.

Ask someone real smart.

A spoilerish overview: The proliferation of nuc
...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Megan Johnson
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't even know where to start with this book??

I was not able to connect with the Characters in the book at all. It was a task to completely finish this book at all.

I know I am in the minority, but I don't know what all the hype was with this book. I think that Atwood was long winded in her writing style and did not help with the connections with the Characters.

I honestly don't have much more to say about this book.
Cecily
I read this many years ago and gave it 4 stars. I've just reread it for my Goodreads bookgroup's February read and upgraded it to 5 stars.

A wonderful hybrid: a book that is eminently readable, but packed with fascinating and thought-provoking ideas and symbolism.

It's set in the near future in a dystopian totalitarian theocratic state where pollution has rendered many infertile, so there has been a backlash against permissiveness and women are subjugated to the point where they are not even allow
...more
Mayra
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: excellent
“This is a book about what happens when certain casually held attitudes about women are taken to their logical conclusions”


Somewhere in Maine, in a grim new regime called The Republic of Gilead, fresh laws stripped all women from their rights. Distorting the texts of the Bible, they follow a strict, conservative, extremely religious set of rules, instating a world where homosexuals, abortionists and priests are swiftly executed.

In a setting where more and more women are becoming infertile, f
...more
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  • He, She and It
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories
  • The Women's Room
  • The Fire-Dwellers
  • The Gate to Women's Country
  • Not Wanted On The Voyage
  • The Birthday of the World and Other Stories
  • Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
  • Brave New Worlds
  • The Unit
  • The Female Man
  • Native Tongue (Native Tongue, #1)
  • Genesis
  • The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)
  • A Door Into Ocean
  • The Stone Diaries
  • A Complicated Kindness
  • Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
...more
More about Margaret Atwood...

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“Don't let the bastards grind you down.” 2265 likes
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” 1464 likes
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