Kati's Reviews > The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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's review
Jul 24, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: narrative

In short: bad sci-fi.

First, the book is almost entirely exposition. There's nothing even resembling a worthwhile plot until about 80% into the book, which means the book ends right as the story is just starting to get good. The ending scene should have happened at page 150. Since it doesn't, most of the story is Offred sitting around feeling sorry for herself.

Second, the premise stretched my disbelief to the breaking point. I have a hard enough time believing that a society that is both underpopulated and at war can afford to keep half its population idle. Also, if you do the math, it's taken a mere 5 years to get from today to this well-organized, firmly established, unique oppressive society. But I was able to look past that until Atwood told us how we got to that point. I'm sorry, but martial law or not, if one day women were suddenly outlawed from both working and holding any assets including money without warning or reason, there would not be "fewer marches than you'd expect." Even in the mid-1980s, such a move would have decimated the income of more than 70% of American households, between bachelorettes, single mothers, and two-income families. There would have been rioting in the streets.

Finally, sometimes Atwood turns a nice phrase, but sometimes the prose just gets heavy handed.

In short, The Handmaid's Tale is pretty much what you've always heard about it. You don't need to read it for yourself.

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