Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

7439970Format:  Paperback

Pages: 370 pages

Published: 1985

Publisher: Vintage Classics

Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Science Fiction




Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

I am still in awe of what I have just finished. That is how emotionally impacted I was. The Handmaid’s Tale is the first book I ever read by Atwood. It was always on my TBR list and with the recent hype surrounding it, I decided to pick it up and start reading it. Never has there been a novel that was a politically correct story and provided an emotional impact, at the same time. You read this and you will grapple with the many issues that the novel sprouts out. The Handmaid’s Tale opens doors to what most people are afraid to look inside. 

The great thing about The Handmaid’s Tale is that it leads to analytical discussion of the important social issues. The rights of women, equality, birth rights…the list goes on. Atwood’s observations towards these subjects gives us readers a chance to have an open discussion. Atwood’s character portrayals were spot on, especially with the heroine Offred. Offred’s insight and perspective was so realistic that it felt like an oral historical retelling of a real life trauma. It felt like that Offred was really talking to the readers, which is common in first person narratives, but a true factor in this case. You constantly felt her pain and the everyday turmoil she had to go through. The loss of intimacy and a human connection, her sadness over the loss of her child, and the anger of the chance her child has forgotten her existence…all of these flooding emotions came at a focal point which made for a very convincing narrative. However, through her pain shows empowerment through her words. Although silenced in her spoken words, no one can affect her true emotions and feelings. Offred always managed to rise above it.

Although a patriarchal society, men are victims as well. Now before a lynch mob comes after me, I don’t mean to condone the violence towards women that are mostly perpetuated  by men. However, men’s rights were done away with as much as women’s. The character portrayal of the Commander makes you feel sorry for him, but not sorry enough to forgive him. His ignorance and child-like manner makes you angry and sympathetic at the same time. The guilt over the solution of solving the world’s problems leads to the discovery of this story many morals:

  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Be grateful for what you have. Before you know it, it can be all gone.
  • Take notice of the little things.
  • Don’t take life for granted

I believe The Handmaid’s Tale reveals true version of society. It unmasks its flaws and truly shows what is underneath. We like to judge something before we truly understand it and this story is a reflection of what happens when we don’t have a discussion about it.

Off the bat, I would like to say that although the resurgence of popularity with this novel has occurred due to the recent events of the world , I thought of it as a work of literature, a dystopian  novel, as it was first published. That being said it is hard not to make comparisons between the novel and real life. Bu the current popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale should not be looked at as only as a possible outcome of what the future may hold. But as a book that will lead to an open and honest dialogue. We can’t hide from the issues that affect us. They are there and they cannot (and should not) be ignored. Gilead try to hide behind them and try to “fix”them  and looked at that outcome.

Atwood has by far wrote the best dystopian I have ever read. It was well-written, a heroine yo can identify with, and created a horrific environment that chills you to the core. The story makes you think outside the box which is something I love about a book.

Now I am going to watch the TV series. I hope, like with any literally adaptation, it does justice to the book.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository | Your local library

Published by karma2015

I was born and raised in New York. I still live in New York but kind of sick of the city and one day I wish to move to the UK.I have a Masters degree in Library Science and I currently work in a special collections library. I loved books ever since I was a little girl. Through the hard times in my life, my love for books has always gotten me through. Just entering another world different from my own intrigues me. As long as I am entering in another universe, I like to create my own as well. I love to write and hopefully I will be able to complete a novel.

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