Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
I feel quite underwhelmed with this book. Sure it had many great qualities and was disturbing in more than one place but I just found it quite unremarkable and slow going with not a lot of explanation and things going on.
When I started this I really liked the writing style as I thought it was very rich, detailed and emotional. However, as the book wore on the lack of suspense in the plot and the daily life story line had me losing interest. What started as a very intriguing world and type of writing, for me just went downhill when I was expecting a suspenseful and in a way, action filled plot. This is not any of those, instead it’s a slow burning journey, which is not a bad thing as for many others this book is done right, but for me there were too many flaws to stop me from overly enjoying it.
To start off with throughout the book there is practically no world building on how the world changed from what we know today to this feminists nightmare. Also we didn’t get much backstory on the other characters so how was I supposed to care about them and get immersed in this world? The MC ‘s narrative also wasn’t the most exciting as the book mainly focused on her daily life with a few flashbacks to her life before, but sadly I felt there were’t enough of those But as I’ve said my main peeve is the fact that there’s no description much on how the government changed or how USA became Gilead which was really disappointing as things like this are one of the things I look forward to most in books of this sort.
The things I did like were the fact that our MC remains practically anonymous throughout the whole book. Sure she’s known as Offred but I remember when I first read that description I thought that was a funny name then it soon became obvious it wasn’t the name she was given, but a name marking her as property. Even at the end we never find out who she really was (the end was in the form of a lecture in the future about Offred’s story and how they came to know it) and I’ve always liked methods like that for some reason… Another thing I liked as I mentioned before was the writing style, the author fully managed to immerse us in the descriptions of Offred’s memories and daily life (even if it wasn’t the most exciting) and I must give credit where it’s due.
This book also finished with an open ending meaning a lot of things were left hanging and we don’t know what became of these characters. This is not my type of ending especially if there’s no sequel… But all in all I can see why many people love this book and why it became a classic (there is just something about the way this is written that makes the reader think this kind of thing could be possible, though hopefully not) but in the end I wasn’t that impressed.
Who I’d recommend this for
Despite what i thought I would still say this book is worth reading but just don’t expect a solidly built world or explanations on how things are the way they are. Also if you like rich detailed writing then this is also worth a shot.