[Book Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Format: Paperback, 311 pages  
Genre: Science Fiction; Distopia; Feminist Sci-Fi; Speculative Fiction
Publisher: Anchor Books a division of Random House
ISBN: 9780385490818
Release Date:
Rating: ⭐ 1/2

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I read, or rather attempted to read, for my banned books book club.  I always take anything rated as a classic and a must read with a grain of salt.

The Handmaid’s Tale was excruciatingly boring.  I’m usually a pretty fast reader, but I found myself taking at least an hour to read 20 pages.

Our protagonist and main character, Offred, is as static as they come and the other characters are flat.  Along with the lack of character development there is also a lack of plot development.  Atwood does a wonderful job of giving the reader descriptions of various places throughout the novel (i.e.the former Harvard Yard, the Red Center, the market, and the handmaid’s costume). Atwood seemed to drown on and on with the descriptions and as a result I skipped through a lot before I actually stopped reading.

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the Republic of Gilead, formally Massachusetts in the United States.  Gilead a totalitarian system in which the women have no rights and are considered chattel.  Atwood does not explore the mental and emotional effects of living in a totalitarian system have on the characters.  It’s obvious that Offred does not like her new station in life, but she, understandably goes along with it out of fear that the government will harm her daughter.

None of the characters engaged me enough for me care about them or to continue reading. The plot trudged along and didn’t seem to go anywhere.

5 thoughts on “[Book Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  1. Joachim Boaz January 21, 2014 / 10:27 am

    Plot plot plot, what about all the ideas? Are they not intriguing?


    • brokenspiners January 21, 2014 / 2:59 pm

      That were questions that came up during my book club discussion and as people spoke about the plot and ideas, I still wasn’t interested or intrigued.


  2. fromcouchtomoon January 21, 2014 / 6:52 am

    Atwood seems to divide people. It’s too bad it wasn’t engaging for you. Great post!


    • brokenspiners January 21, 2014 / 2:50 pm

      You’re absolutely right. Out of the 20 something people that were at the book club about half of us didn’t care for it and the other half loved it. Perhaps I’ll go back and read it, someday.


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