Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Genre: Feminist dystopia
Rating: 5/5 stars
The books has several covers from different publishers but most of them feature an image of a handmaid. I don't particular like or dislike this cover and I'm not sure it's something that attracts readers but it does give you a good idea as to what the handmaid's look like and I find the fact that they're pictured with a huge wall next to them quite fitting to what they have to endure in their lives.
The novel tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. Handmaid's are only used as baby machines so to speak, they're property of their Commanders and are required to have sex with them every month in the hopes of getting pregnant because the Commanders actual wives can't have children. Offred's commander is called Fred, which is where here name comes from, which shows how much of property they really and how much value they have. Offred used to be a normal woman before society changed into this hell, she had a a job, a husband, a daughter and a name of her own but then things changed and she was stripped of all her rights and freedom by the new dictatorship and through flashbacks we get images of Offred's life before Gilead was founded.
Even though this book was written in 1985, it still seems scarily accurate, it's a world that, while it may seem far-fetched, could become a reality. Especially considering that in many places women don't have the rights that are taken for granted in other countries. It's scary to imagine a world like it, maybe even scarier than other dystopias dealing with dictatorial regimes because what is going on in Gilead is downright disgusting.
What I find especially interesting of this story is that it is set at the beginning of this new society, unlike many other dystopian novels that are set way into the future when people don't know any other life. Offred, however, knows how it was before and she knows the freedoms that she has lost. I think this makes the reading of this novel a completely different experience because even though you know what a free live is, reading about it through the character that doesn't have it anymore, is a different thing.
Being a huge Atwood fan, I'm maybe biased when I say this but this is a engaging novel that pulls you into an emotional and grueling story. It's like a scary dream you don't seem to wake up from. The writing style is maybe something you either love or hate, it's different and needs some getting used to because it's more unconventional than conventional but it's something you have to experience yourself.