hmmm…what do I tell you about this book. I know almost everybody has read it, so I’ll skip the plot and go right into the ‘my thoughts’ part.
First of all, I don’t know why this is called Science Fiction. Could someone please explain that to me? It’s a different world, yes, but does that make it Science Fiction?
I found it very difficult to get into this book. It just did not pull me in at least for the first 100 pages. The premise of this book was very creepy and horrifying. But I couldn’t actually feel the horror for more than half of the book because I was trying to understand what was happening. I hope you do understand what I mean here. I started appreciating the writing style only after 150 or so pages of the book. But after that I fell in love with the minimalist writing style and the intelligent phrases.
I did like this book but I was expecting to like it a lot more. The end was abrupt and I hate when that happens.
I do understand the end where as the girl was concerned. Either she escaped or she was caught. But what happened to the regime? What happened to all the handmaid’s? There were just too many unanswered questions for me to feel satisfied with the book.
I do recommend this book. It’s just that I wanted to like it more than 3.5 stars. But then I feel happy that I have finally read the book I wanted to read for a long time.
Almost everyone I know has loved this book. Is there anyone out there who agrees with me even somewhat?
25 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood”
I’m one of the few people who haven’t read this yet, so haven’t read much of your review – I imagine I will score it fairly low too though. I’m not a big Atwood fan.
It’s science fiction because it’s a dystopia, and dystopian literature is one of the branches of sci-fi. I think the term “science fiction” is much wider than most people realize. Sci-fi stories are not necessarily all about new technologies, alien invasions, time travel, or, like Atwood herself once unfortunately put it “squids in outer space”. Personally I like to use the label science fiction as broadly as possible, and the reason why it upsets me when people say books like this, The Road, The Time Traveller’s Wife or 1984 are not “really” science-fiction is because a lot of the time they’re implying that their literature merit means they can’t possible belong to a “lowly” genre.
I’m sorry this one didn’t quite live up to your expectations! But as you liked the writing, I recommend reading her again sometime.
Hey Nymeth, I don’t put Science Fiction in a “lowly” genre. I was just talking in the categorization sense without really putting anything down or elevating anything else.
I think of Science Fiction as world’s that can never be created, the world in The Handmaid’s tale could be a possibility. It could happen. Just that. I know better than to belittle any Genre 🙂
I would definitely read another Atwood again.
I know you didn’t mean it like that, Violet! But a lot of people do (and I’m talking about the world of professional criticism, not really the blogging world), so I always go on a bit of a rant about this topic 😛
What you said about seeing sci-fi as something that could never come to be is very interesting. That’s more or less the criteria I use to separate fantasy and science fiction. For me, fantasy=impossible, while science fiction=potentially real. And yes, I’m including alien invasions here. You never know 😛
Ha…that’s a good disctinction. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all the genres that I sometimes wish books were categorized only as fiction and non-fiction. Life would be so much easier 🙂
I read this book a long time ago, so I don’t think I was old enough to appreciate the writing style. Instead I was just horrified by it, it really freaked me out! Your review makes me think I should go back and read it.
I did love this. I found it frightening and relevant to what happened in our society, mostly, and I just loved Atwood’s writing.
Ah, a classic I’ve always wanted to read too. I had no idea it was meant to be all ‘sci fi’-y.
I haven’t read anything by Margaret Atwood yet, but she’s on my must read list. My husband’s recommended I start with Blind Assassin first. I’m pretty sure I have a copy of this one in my TBR pile too. I’m glad you liked it, even if it didn’t quite live up to your exceptations.
I have not read this book either, though it has been on my list for a while. I read her short story Hairball in high school, and it’s one that has stuck with me over the years.
Definately one of my top 10 favorite books. I did think the ending was unsatisfying. I think it allows for you to “make” your own ending.
Saw the movie, but haven’t read the book. Probably won’t. I’m not opposed to a post-war society in the near future, but this movie really seemed to miss something. Besides, the brainwashing of the handmaids is creepy. Thumbs-down on The Handmaid’s Tale; I agree with you.
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I haven’t read this book yet. It seems people either love it or hate it. I got Atwood’s newest book and I’m anxious to see how I like her work.
I’m sorry this book didn’t live up to your expectations. I quite enjoyed this book, and the subject is something we should think about (even though if it’s fiction). And of course, I love Atwood’s writing style!
Never read this or any Atwood. I did see the movie many years ago and was creeped out by it.
I have a feeling I’ll like the movie more. Let’s see.
I loved this book and am glad it was my first intro to Atwood – now one of my faves! I’ve read Blind Assassin, too. I personally loved the ending – it actually made it feel even more possible, and hopeful! as if it was a piece of discovered history and the profs had to make something of it. (nd the movie sucks, imo – skip it.) Regardless of whether or not you ‘liked’ the book, I bet over time, you will be glad you read it.
Oh I am glad I read it, I just expected to like it more than I did 🙂
The movie suchks huh? Okay, I’ll have to rethink about watching It then.
I am not one to immediately diss on a movie just cuz ‘the book is better’ but in this case, they just didn’t quite get the creepiness mood and feel of doom or something. Maybe going into the movie thinking it might suck will actually make it better? ha! I think I had too high expecations for the flick like you did for the book. 🙂
Hi Violet, I have this book in my TBR and hope to read it soon. Will share my thoughts later. 🙂
I read this book in college, and it freaked me out. I agree that the ending is abrupt, but I thought it was great. I never thought about it being science fiction because the professor kept harping on the word “dystopian” and I never made the connection between the two, but I see Nymeth’s point.
(Full disclosure, I am a big Atwood fan.) I liked this book a lot. It is certainly far better than the movie. But I did have qualms about the end. I thought it was too lighthearted, it kind of diminished the seriousness of the rest of the book.
I know that Atwood doesn’t call her work science fiction, she refers to it as speculative fiction, which I think is an accurate description. For something a little less speculative you might want to try the Robber Bride. One of my favorites (and another bad movie adaption).
i fully agree with you
it was a very hard book to get into
and i think there is too much unneccesary description
and there was never really a climax in the plot of the story which made it fall flat for me