Don’t get me wrong, I like me a dystopian mind blow every now and again to make me feel good about my current situation, but guh-damn. I’ve got to read about a lot of unicorns and rainbows to cleanse my palette after this cluster of darkness.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an American version of oppressive societies like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere ISIS is in charge. With fundamentalist religious imagery, creepy sex scenes, and people displayed on hooks, I noped my way through this book as fast as I could.
A part of my discomfort lies in the setting. It wasn’t in some unnamed distant future. It was now. Offred (our narrator) grew up in the 80’s, like me. She lived before everything went to hell, after a totalitarian regime took over the United States. She didn’t wonder what things were like before. She knew. And that makes her reality more relatable to me and harder to accept.
And her kid? Don’t get me started. All I have to say is Margaret Atwood owes me an apology for bringing children into her nightmare society the way she did. It’s like watching effing Walking Dead after stupid Judith was born and all I could think about was how the baby wasn’t going to get eaten by zombies every freaking minute of the show. Not that Offred’s daughter is a big part of the book, and her life isn’t in danger, but STILL.
And if you’re wondering what happens, well, nothing in particular. We just hear about Offred’s life – with snippets of her before. We learn basically what daily life is like for someone in her position, basically living as a concubine in a patriarchal society that suppresses women’s rights (among others). No bigge.
Is it interesting? I guess. But so is a car accident, or a jerusalem cricket. Doesn’t mean I need to linger any longer than necessary in their presence. And with that, I am over this book. It’s thought-provoking, but too severe for my taste. Any society where people greet each other with “blessed be the fruit” or “under his eye,” is one I’ll only see in my rear view mirror. Real or fictional.
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