I expected bleak, and bleak was what I got. I think I’d been warned by someone a few year’s ago who read it, or I’d seen the previews for the TV series… so I knew full-well this wasn’t going to be a fun, light-hearted read.
But it was worse than that… it actually left me feeling rather depressed. And disappointed that there couldn’t have been a bit more light to balance the dark throughout the book.
I’m guessing that’s exactly what Atwood wanted me to feel, to fully understand how the characters felt. It is distopia after all… and maybe I’ve just been spoiled by happy endings and things tied up neatly in a bow. Austen’s girl got the man, Tolkien’s hobbit got the treasure, Sebold’s perpetrator got what he deserved, Brown’s philosopher of symbology cracked the code AND got the girl.
By leaving me uncomfortable, unhappy with the situation, dissatisfied with the book… it makes me more likely to be uncomfortable, unhappy and dissatisfied with the world, especially when I see elements of the Handmaid’s Tale mirrored in real life.
Atwood didn’t want to tell a story, she wanted to inspire change.
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.Follow @jessieansons