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The Testaments

(The Handmaid's Tale #2)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  110,914 ratings  ·  13,238 reviews
When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

Hardcover, 422 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Nan A. Talese
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Phil It could well be for the same reason that anything vaguely feminist or female centred - whether it's Clementine Ford or Captain Marvel - gets trolled…moreIt could well be for the same reason that anything vaguely feminist or female centred - whether it's Clementine Ford or Captain Marvel - gets trolled by the alt-right and soft-centred Men's Rights groups nowadays: ironically backing up Atwood's viewpoint.(less)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  110,914 ratings  ·  13,238 reviews

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Start your review of The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale, #2)
Nov 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: big fans of the TV show version
I guess I'll have to be the one who says what nobody else is willing to say. This novel is terrible, and Booker judges are starstruck, hype-driven sellouts. And that no professional literary critic has the guts to tell the truth about how poorly conceived and written The Testaments is, is a true shame.

I can't decide which work Atwood should be embarrassed for more - Angel Catbird, Vol. 1 or The Testaments. The book doesn't read like a novel written by one of the most lauded authors of the 20st
Emily May
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, modern-lit
I can sum it up simply: this book is not needed.

I hoped that wouldn't be the case. I really really hoped Atwood had something important to add to the world of Gilead with this book, but she honestly doesn't. If anything, The Testaments serves only to weaken the power of The Handmaid's Tale.

In the past, I have spoken highly of authors who are not afraid to "be evil" with their books. This may give the impression that they are doing something particularly nefarious, but, in fact, it’s not so much
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
Return to Gilead

Check your expectations at the door: The Testaments is a highly entertaining page turner, but it is also probably quite different from whatever you were anticipating.

It differs from its 1985 antecedent, The Handmaid's Tale, in tone, voice and literary heft. That earlier book had a power and a gravitas that is not recaptured here. For me the most striking thing about The Handmaid’s Tale has always been Atwood’s choice of narrator. Offred (in the book she has no other name) is so
Nilufer Ozmekik
Winner of best fiction category but it’s not my winner. That’s my opinion and I respect fans’ opinions

Two stars for the love of Aunt Lydia! If she wasn’t in this book, I could do something first by giving minus five stars to a book! See how I disliked and how I felt frustrated about this hope stealing, time wasting, one of the biggest failures of the year!!!! One of the tasteless testament you could ever have!

2019 could be one of this year I got really disappointed by movies, series books.
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
I haven't even finished season 2 of the tv show since it was so emotionally draining but here I am reading this!!
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
A review in 5 words:

Unnecessary. Pointless. Ruining. Bland. Spoilers.
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my most anticipated book for 2019.

Wait... I should amend that statement...


And much like my life, it was an epic disappointment.

The Handmaid's Tale is on my Top 10 shelf. It is, in my opinion, the greatest dystopian novel of all time. It is everything you expect from the genre and more. Shocking, terrifying, an unflinching account of a fucking nightmarish scenario that could actually happen.

At the end of The Handmaid's Tale
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: margaret-atwood
"How tedious is a tyranny in the throes of enactment. It's always the same plot."

So why does Margaret Atwood choose to tell the story again? That question has haunted me since I heard the announcement of the project almost a year ago. WHY? I was convinced I would hate the hype and the gushing reviews and the book itself, and started reading with the attitude of someone who knew the story didn't need telling again.

To my surprise, I liked it from the start, and soon engaged in the thriller
Justin Tate
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
It's not easy being the most anticipated book of the year. I would argue that most of the negative reactions - including my own - are based largely on expectations. Since published in 1985, The Handmaid's Tale has become sacred ground in the literary world; a true modern classic further amplified by the successful show and current political tensions. Stakes for a sequel couldn't be higher and, even for the ever-talented Margaret Atwood, that's a tough performance to deliver. All in all, this is ...more
Oct 23, 2019 added it
I liked this one more than A Handmaid's Tale! Call me crazy! But I loved that there was this exciting plot that was pushing the momentum forwards and that we were learning more about Gilead and the world outside and the way it came to be. I read this DIRECTLY after A Handmaid's Tale, like I read both of them in the span of a few days, and I felt this enriched the world so much more.
3.5 to 4 stars

I was going to go with 3 stars because while I liked it, it did not impress me as much as the first book. But, after discussing the book with my wife at dinner last night, I realized I got more from it than I thought, so I am upping my rating a bit.

In the afterword, Atwood hints at the fact that this was written in response to the recently renewed popularity of the first book and the current state of affairs in America. Because of this, it does kind of read like it was written to
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: overdrive

“One mysterious box, when opened, so often conceals another.”

In relation to The Handmaid’s Tale Hulu series, I found The Testaments entertaining. As a follow up to the novel, I found it lacking.

I am holding off on a complete review until I have finished rereading The Handmaid's Tale.

More to come!
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Winner of the Booker Prize 2019 (together with Girl, Woman, Other)
This is a flashy, placative, but also intelligent thriller, here to make some points about society and to entertain - it's certainly not the most layered or subtle literature ever written, but you know what? It's engaging, rather suspenseful and great fun to read, full of quips and commentary on the world we live in, and sometimes, that's more than enough. And honestly: The Handmaid's Tale wasn't particularly ambiguous or
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
i know ive said this before, but just because an author can write a novel, does that really mean they should? i thought ‘the handmaids tale’ was strong enough on its own. yes, i had questions afterwards, but i like that the story is a reflection on real society, where we dont have all the answers.

and even though i did enjoy this solely from an entertainment perspective, i just dont find it necessary. i think atwood got caught up in all the success of the television adaptation and thought she
Charlotte May
Nov 28, 2018 marked it as library-loans  ·  review of another edition
Library copy available for pick up

Why did Atwood write this more than thirty years after The Handmaid’s Tale (see my review HERE), when she’d already written sequels to that for the TV series? Because “we started moving towards Gilead instead of away from it – particularly in the United States” and more specifically, to answer “How did Gilead fall?” and “How do you get to be such a person [as Aunt Lydia]?”.

Why read it? Hype, a heavy discount, and morbid curiosity. It’s an easy read and enough of a page-turner to finish
Gumble's Yard
Joint Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize - which I captured in this photo.


You’ll labour over this manuscript of mine, reading and rereading, picking nits as you go.

I was fortunate enough to attend one of the live cinema screenings of the readings and author Q&A from the National Theatre on the evening of the book's official publication, managing to complete my first read of the book just as the event started.

The event was excellent - and I think only reinforced my view that Handmaid's Tale is
Ron Charles
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Testaments” opens in Gilead about 15 years after “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but it’s an entirely different novel in form and tone. Inevitably, the details are less shocking — at least in part because the horrors of Gilead’s male-centered theocracy are already so well known. When Offred first told her “sad and mutilated story,” we were hearing about the hangings, the Unbabies and the Sons of Jacob for the first time. But by now, Gildead’s breeding Ceremony is a creepy cultural touchstone.

3.5 stars.

It pains me to write this, because I love The Handmaid's Tale, but this book just felt incredibly unnecessary. The plot is predictable, with ‘revelations’ that are glaringly obvious, and characters that just don’t have the same level of depth of emotion that Offred had. With The Handmaid’s Tale, we have a novel that leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination. The ending is ambiguous and interesting, with a story that features an incredibly narrowed view of a world by a woman so
Paul Fulcher
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: booker-2019, 2019
Here I also keep another set of files, accessible only to a very few; I think of them as the secret histories of Gilead. All that festers is not gold, but it can be made profitable in non-monetary ways: knowledge is power.
Aunt Lydia

It was an “extraordinarily complicated process” to get copies of the manuscript, which is protected by a “ferocious” non-disclosure agreement.
Chair of Booker Judges as told to the Guardian

When, in 2197, the Thirteenth Symposium on Amazonian Studies takes place, the
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula by: Booker
Co-winner of the Booker prize 2019

Brilliant! Absolutely phenomenal!

What a fantastic ride coming back to the world of Gilead 15 years later. The sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is written very different from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic, but in no way does it suffer as a follow-up. The Testaments is superbly narrated by three women- two young women with one who escaped to Canada as a child, the other raised in Gilead, and, last but not least, the very powerful and dangerous, Aunt Lydia. I am
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I've had less than good experiences in my last few Atwood reads - first I spent money on the novella series that was then removed from my Kindle with no renumeration. Then I held off and finally read The Heart Goes Last and ended up sorely disappointed in it. You can read my 2-star review but part of my complaint had to do with a feeling of author laziness on some level. Claiming it was an all new book, but to me half of it being very familiar since I'd already read it in the novella version. ...more
Richard Derus
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, returned
UPDATE OCTOBER 2019 The Coode Street Podcast goes into the SFnal roots of this title.

My hold came in today!! The librarians saw my name on the holds list and our library bought one, instead of relying on the system's many multiple copies. That way I got my hold immediately instead of being wherever I was, deep in the triple digits.

They like me. They really like me.
All three stars are for Aunt Lydia's sections. Agnes is annoying, a lump of nothing as required by her upbringing; it didn't make
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the opening of The Testaments, a statue is unveiled. This is a statue of the infamous, puppet-master, Aunt Lydia. Readers of The Handmaid’s Tale will know her well.

The Testaments is narrated by three narrators, but Aunt Lydia is the dominant of the three. Through her secretive writings, we learn of her history, and how she rose to power to become the mastermind that sets in motion the destruction of Gilead. Again readers of The Handmaid’s Tale will recognise the diary style of writing that
Michael Finocchiaro
In The Testaments, Margaret Atwood brings a thrilling conclusion to the story she started with The Handmaid's Tale about the dystopian Gilead. It does not contradict the previous novel and is not inconsistent with the television series starting the amazing Elisabeth Moss.

One of the key differences between this book and its predecessor is that rather than being narrated by June/Offred, this book has multiple narratives: Aunt Lydia (the same one from before), Agnes (a Commander's daughter inside
Joint Winner of the Booker Prize 2019

I can't help but be a little disappointed with this book. In my view The Handmaid's Tale didn't need a sequel, but I suppose we can't begrudge Atwood the opportunity to cash in on the popularity of the TV version. In my view this book is not worthy of a Booker shortlisting, and is possibly the weakest of the Atwood novels I have read.

There are two main problems - firstly by alternating the accounts of three narrators, the distinctive voices are lost, and
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars] So I'm finally getting around to reviewing this. I finished it about 2 weeks ago, and didn't really mean to wait that long to write a proper review of it—but I'm glad I did. As I've sat with this book after finishing it, I think my initial feelings have faded a tiny bit. I will say first and foremost, reading this was incredibly enjoyable. It affirmed my love of Atwood's writing, at a sentence level, and storytelling. Her ability to weave plots and deliver complex themes in a very ...more
Johann (jobis89)
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.”

In the highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers some of the questions that have tantalised readers for decades.

I’m not gonna lie... I could read about Gilead until the cows come home. I find this dystopian world absolutely fascinating - and equally terrifying, given our current climate. Combine this with Atwood’s sharp, insightful commentary and her stunning prose, and you have all the
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Well, it’s written by Margaret Atwood who pens a very good read in all her books, so I added another *. Or it would have been 2.75*

The book itself in MHO is that it should have been left as it was.
So why did I buy it?
Because I was hoping it lead on from the previous book The Handmaids Tale.

For over 60% of this read it focused on the children. Nothing wrong with that, it was written really well.
On the whole I enjoyed it but it was slow moving, tedious at times.

Lydia is still around and as in the
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Rae
In the stunning and much anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood sheds light on the dystopia she created all those years ago and which resonates on televisions even today. Welcome back to Gilead, which has been running as its own theocratic dictatorship for over fifteen years. Life has been interesting, though the almighty power of the Commanders seems to have developed cracks—just don’t tell them that. Agnes is a girl who has lived her entire life under Gilead, knowing no ...more
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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,

Other books in the series

The Handmaid's Tale (2 books)
  • The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)
“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.” 65 likes
“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” 62 likes
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