First, let me say that I devoured this book in one day. No matter it’s faults, and it does have them, this is obviously an extremely propulsive book. I couldn’t put it down. Despite it being a giant hardcover, I was carrying it with me everywhere around the house, even when it was inconvenient and even uncomfortable to do so. It’s been a long time since I spent hours doing nothing but just reading, but I spent basically a day reading this and the new Becky Chambers (To Be Taught, If Fortunate).
This is, as is obvious from the title of the book, a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. It doesn’t follow the titular handmaid, and in some ways seems more closely tied to the events of the TV show than it does to the events of the first book. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PLOT DETAILS OF THIS BOOK, STOP READING HERE! For those worried about spoilers for the TV show: you can safely read the book if you’re not upset by finding out a little of what happens to characters like Aunt Lydia and Baby Nicole, and if you’re okay learning more about Gilead in general as it might end up reflected in the show. If you’re averse to even that, wait to read it. If you don’t want to know anything about what may or may not happen to June, read the book but not the epilogue portion. OKAY, YOU’RE SAFE TO READ AGAIN!
Now, on to actually reviewing the book. Like I said in my first paragraph, you won’t want to put it down. Looking back, though, I will say that the prose felt much more workmanlike in this book. Part of the beauty of The Handmaid’s Tale (the book) was the lovely prose, the detailed descriptions of small details, the frequent stillness. This might be harder to do in a book that follows more characters whose lives are less restricted, but it does lose some of the heart of the first book because of that. This felt more like a very good YA dystopian than an artful, beautiful novel about a horrible world that could easily happen. Still, if you’re a fan of the first book, as I am, you’re likely to like this one too.