Read: August 27 -30 Verdict: 4 Stars
The Handmaid's Tale is set in a new kind of America, now known as Gilead. In Gilead, sterility is a countrywide, and possibly worldwide, problem. Because of these problems, the world for females is no longer a nice place. They no longer have any rights, and are seen more as breeding factories than human beings. Young fertile women are now given the choice to be handmaids, which means moving in with a rich couple, having ritual sex with the husband and, hopefully, having a baby.
Offred, the main character in this book, is literally the handmaid of Fred. Along with their bodies, the women's names are taken from them too. Offred tells the story, flitting back and forth between her current situation as a handmaid and her life before - as the wife of Luke and the mother of a young daughter.
I felt like parts of the story were told by Offred in what could be described as a distant manner. I felt like Offred was trying to distance herself from her situation and it made the whole thing even creepier. I found the whole concept of the book creepy, just the thought of being in that kind of situation repulsed me. It was also the kind of book that made me angry when I reading it, not because it was badly written, but because of the way women, not just the handmaids, were treated.
I found it very interesting how, at the same time, the handmaids seemed to be honoured yet reviled at the same time. They were so many people's only hopes at having children - their jib literally meant having their own children ripped away from them. They weren't allowed sit down, weren't allowed hardly any kind of comfort at all and even their food was extremely basic. You would think, being pregnant, they have been allowed have a second helping of eggs now and again but nope, not allowed.
The scariest thing about this book is I just kept having this feeling about how it could almost be possible. It didn't seem that far-fetched. There are still so many places in the world where women have zero rights and are treated just as badly, even worse, than Offred and Ofglen. There is definitely something in the back of people's minds that things like this could happen - you only have to read all kinds of disaster books, or watch disaster movies/TV shows, and see how there are always communities who go back to treating women like crap.
Overall, The Handmaid's Tale was an extremely powerful, yet not a very comfortable read. I can't read to pick up another book by Atwood.