Book reviews

Book Review | The Handmaid’s Tale

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Classics

Page Count: 311 Pages

Synopsis: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now

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This book is really hard to talk about. It’s just so difficult to explain the world and the story, it’s one of those books you just have to read to understand. Here goes my attempt at convincing you to pick this book up right now.

Plot

The Republic of Gilead formerly known as The United States is a dystopian society where basically women have no rights or freedom. The don’t even have an identity, you’re stripped of your name and given these weird names like Offred which are devoid of meaning or feeling. In the beginning it was difficult to imagine such an oppressive society where you have no control, where words like love are banned. It’s definitely the kind of book that grows on you as you continue reading and you’ll find that by the end you’ll find the most horrific things “normal” in this context.

The scene was set nicely with the introduction of key aspects and characters but for quite a while there was an air of mystery about this society, I mean how did they come about? how did they gain such power and maintain control? These are all questions that are answered obviously as the story continues between the past and the present, surprisingly I didn’t get confused by the constant switching.

Oh and did I mention? there were some serious 1984 (the book) vibes going on in this book, I literally had Deja Vu at some points in the story and of course this book like 1984 has taken over my brain for the past few days.

Characters

Offred is the protagonist of this story and I believe what’s so freakishly good about her character is that she is so …normal? I mean she’s just another thirty something woman who had a man and a child and is now in the wrong circumstances. The decisions she makes are so real, I guess we’d all like to believe we would act as heroes or martyrs if our rights were stolen and we were oppressed but the truth is the majority of us would just do what Offred did, go along with is because resistance requires serious strength.

Along with Offred’s compliance the book also explores resistance among her kind, I mean there’s her best friend Moira who is an absolute rebel and flicks this government and their oppression. I think we all secretly hope we were Rebel Moira.

Writing

The writing is the hardest to explain. It is unlike anything I have ever read before. It is blunt. It is heavy. It is amazing. Atwood manages to paint such a good picture of this world with her feminist rants and such. Nothing is ever glorified, Atwood just says it like it is. Although I do feel like there wasn’t much emotion involved in the writing but it is quite a unique style of writing so it seems obvious there wouldn’t be sappy scenes.

But there would be these moments when Atwood would write these beautiful, poetic phrases and I’m just here like ‘melts’

The Handmaid’s Tale is quite a serious and heavy book exploring important topics that women and men need to read about. I like the fact that the ending was open to interpretation because that just strengthens my withdrawal symptoms with this book. Seriously, go read it.

Rating

4

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Book review- 1984

1984                                                                 5470                                                                                                                              

By: George Orwell

Genre: Dystopia/Utopia, Political fiction, social science fiction

Pages: 335

1984 by George Orwell is undoubtedly a very powerful and well disturbing read. The terrifying world that the book centers around will leave chills down your spine.

Summary: In the year 1984 Winston Smith lives in a world where there is an eternal war under Big Brother: an overly controlling government who sees and controls everything and everyone. Winston finds Big Brother oppressive and decides to rebel by doing things like writing in a journal and being in love with a girl called Julia. 1984 takes you through Winston’s journey of finding his individuality and leaves you really thinking about the world we live in today..

The book is divided into three parts and not much action occurs until we get into part two. Part one was so bland that the first time I read it I decided to give up on the book. Although I am glad I picked it up again because trust me it may be a little hard to get into at first but  once you progress into part two you’ll be hooked! 

One of things that awed me the most about 1984 was the world building. George Orwell creates such a frightening society where you’re constantly been watched and controlled by the government. The concept of “doublethink” blew my mind! the idea of always having to change your beliefs and manipulate your consciousness in order to satisfy Big Brother left a very powerful impact on me. 

The characters were very hard to empathize with. Especially in part one I just couldn’t connect with Winston and later on with Julia also I was not able to link with her feelings. However, towards the end of the book Winston’s character came off so powerful and I felt the pain and the terror and I shared all the frustration with him. I felt like I also started connecting with Winston when we got some of the insights in his past and to know his family along with the relationship he had with his wife. After giving this much thought I have come to the conclusion that maybe the characters were just there as objects to introduce us to this world.

The most terrifying part of the book and also some what my favorite was the realization that the world of 1984 isn’t very different to the world we live in now. I became conscious of this fact while I was reading the excerpts from Goldstein’s book which made me wish there were more excerpts as it made things so much clearer for me. Another powerful yet depressing thing about the book was the motive of the government to make the world into a dull place with no laughter, no art, no freedom to think or create and basically turn its citizens into zombies. 

Overall, 1984 was a rather peculiar read from my perspective. George Orwell is such a convincing writer and his use of language in this book is so strong and thought-provoking which just makes the book all the more amazing. The world building in 1984 and how the author examines it from all aspects along with its feelings of despair make it a very scary yet powerful read. 

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