The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
North America, late 20th century. What were once known as the United States of America have been taken over by a religion-based totalitarian regime, easily reminiscent of Iran, where the status of women has been reduced to that of cattle, whose property, rights, education, identity have been negated.
Offred is a handmaid, a woman whose sole purpose in life is that of producing an ever increasing luxury among the population: children.
Considering that this book was published in 1985, before many of the things it describes actually happened-and happen they did, think about the ever increasing use of digital money, for example — it is eerily prophetic and unsettling. And amazing. Brutal, compelling, thought-provoking, horrific, creepy and totally credible even. I don't have enough adjectives to describe it. Truth be told, it is more actual now than ever, with the recent catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan days away and the whole of the Islamic world in turmoil.
Atwood's writing style is also unsettling, it goes with the book. Monotone, as Offred's life is, it is also beautifully evocative, brutal, perfectly conveys the hopelessness of this woman and her situation. We are mercifully left with hope at the end, as there should be, because things CAN change.
The only doubt I have, the only question I would ask the author is: in an increasingly globalized world, why is there no international community reaction to the regime? Why is the population so passive, is there no resistance?
A must-read, preferably not as a summer read.
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