I admit, while I knew a smidgen of theme of The Handmaid’s Tale, I really did not know the “whole story.” The other thing was, I had (and still have) no interest in reading the over 300-page novel. And I really have no interest in watching the show based on it. Therefore, I figured I would just know about this modern classic and that was that. It was not until I saw that there was a graphic novel version that I figured, “Why not?” I was blown away by Fahrenheit 451 in the graphic novel format (another classic I knew I would have trouble reading in the novel format due to the complexities) and The Great Gatsby was brought to life in a whole new way in not one but two graphic novels; therefore, I thought this might be a good way to tackle this book, too.
While it must make the story easier to follow than the full novel of Margaret Atwood (240 pages compared to over 300 and you can see the action versus just reading about it) it is still not an easy book. How much is “real vs the narrators’ thoughts” was a little hard to see at times. How reliable is the narrator? And other questions might come to you. I was lost in a few places, was not sure who people were (which I assumed was the point as women are nothing but “wombs” and “pretties” and “Martha’s” not women with individualities). But even the men were generic. It was only a small handful that you can tell who they are. I also wonder if The Ceremony is explained more in the novel. If more details are presented than Renee Nault’s adaptation shows (though it leaves nothing to the imagination). Much is taken for granted that you already now what is going on. Or you take things at “face value” and just accept it (“Okay this is The Ceremony and the pictures tell you all about it.”)
The artwork can be at times not abstract, but not “realistic” and is “dreamy.” Nault has a vision, but I was not always sure what it was. Not to say that they are unpleasant. There is little in the way of colors, but what is used is bold and in your face. Obviously red plays a large roll (the red of the gowns, blood (and there is a lot of blood) and with anger. Green, yellow and an important pink also come into play.
This is not a book to casually read, or even a once read. It is obviously disturbing, but I also wonder how much “old news” is this subject? And yet, how much is still happening today? The ending was another head scratcher for me. In the end, if you do not come away asking at least a few questions, I don’t think you read it. At the very least you should be thinking about what you read. And while it is not a FOUR it is a solid 3.5. Sturdy with room for this reader to grow that rating as I experience it another time.