My Favorite Book: The Handmaid’s Tale

Editor’s note:

Welcome to a new feature on DNBRD! Life has been insane lately, so I’ve recruited some amazing, smart, funny people to help me out a bit. I hope you enjoy the new energy they’re going to add to the site!

–AL

As far as dystopian novels go, the most popular for the general reading population have been 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451.  While these are all great novels, unfortunately, they are all male-driven–male main characters in male-dominated societies.  And then, there is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.This female-directed story takes place in some unspecified period of time (presumably in the future) where women’s rights have been completely restricted and the “handmaid’s” primary duty is to be a surrogate for higher-ups who are struggling with conception.  The story follows one handmaid by the name of Offred (Of Fred, her commander).  Her story wanders between her previous life in the United States of America and this new society.

What makes this story so amazing and wonderful and frightening is that many of the morals and values of this new society are leftover from the United States but twisted in a way that would make any feminist cringe… something that could actually happen in our lifetime.  It’s written by a woman from the point of view of a woman in this oppressed society; again, something that is not often done in the genre of dystopian novels.  And the ending, whoooo boy, the ending.  While many might be disappointed by the ending, as I first was, rereading it allowed me to admire the ending for allowing the reader to imagine what became of all the characters.  The ending also puts the rest of the story in a completely different context which compels the reader to read it again.  And to me, any good book is worth rereading.

For some more dystopian novels you might enjoy, see this list, this article from the Guardian, and this Wikipedia entry.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale? Let us know in the comments!

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