The dark humour and attention to detail that Atwood is known for is definitely one of the strong points of this book. It just made the crazy things happening seem more realistic. Really, it’s one of the best dystopias I’ve ever read, and I do love them, so that’s saying a lot.
I had to start reading this book more than once before it really caught me. I think that I just needed to get past those first few pages before I was sure that I could really follow along and enjoy it.
The Handmaid’s Tale blew my freaking socks off back then, and it did it again now.
The basic premise of the story seems a bit far-fetched … and yet it isn’t, especially as years go on and the conservative Christian right gets stronger and more militant in the United States.
There are many authors that I respect very deeply, or whose work I enjoy, but few of them are writers who have stayed with me through more than a few years. One of these authors is the inimitable Margaret Atwood. And so, today, I’m writing a theoretical letter to send to her, though I don’t really expect her to actually read it. Ms. Atwood, I was first introduced to your work in high school, when we read Alias Grace in English class. While I enjoyed the book at the time, I hated the way that we analyzed it to death. It was pretty much the same thing as everything else I read in school, particularly by the time I got to university – I just loved to read, but didn’t care overly much for interpreting the author’s intentions. I just felt like it was too presumptive to assume that we could figure these things out just from reading their finished, edited, published text. The next time that I encountered your work was in university, when The Handmaid’s Tale was on a required reading list for one of my courses. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t come across it before. What…
While Oryx and Crake was told from the point of view of Jimmy and focused largely on the events that took place, especially what led up to the pandemic, The Year of the Flood focuses more on the lives of other characters, especially the God’s Gardeners, and is told from the alternating perspectives of Toby and Ren. The story is more about how the characters lived before the pandemic, why they survived it, and how they are continuing to live and trying to figure out what to do in a world where they’re not sure if there is anyone else alive.