The Testaments is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and I found it to be just as haunting as its predecessor, perhaps even more so. The significant difference between the two is that The Handmand’s Tail uses a single POV whereas The Testaments uses three characters. That difference comes through in many ways but one in particular that I thought was most interesting is the way that the different books affected the reader. The Handmaid’s Tale through Offred’s POV only shows the world of Gilead from the perspective of one person. It was the struggle of an individual against the system and mechanisms designed to hold her down. The story was haunting because it was so personal. The Testaments was haunting because it connected three different narratives that all confirmed the same horrors of the world of Gilead. It wasn’t just one account, it was all accounts. I really liked that and, to me, it was much scarier. I am also a big fan of the way that one of the POV characters was Aunt Lydia from the first book. We learned a great deal of her back story which COMPLETELY changed the way I view her. That’s not to say that I approve but it makes her a much more interesting and developed character.
I thought the look back on Gilead from a historian’s perspective was very interesting. It added a good wrinkle that I took as the idea that no matter how important and/or awful things may be for us now, when viewed through the historical lens, they may barely register. While that may seem fatalist, I find it hopeful and reassuring in so much as the idea that the bad and the awful will fail and become a footnote in our history not the focal point. I also really liked the way the book elaborated on what Gilead is and how it came to be. That is much bigger and much worse than what seems to be against us today. I take the Testaments to be more allegorical than speculative. That is why I find the finale to be somewhat hopeful. It was certainly a refreshing change from the oppressive feeling this book gave me.