2011 Dystopian Book Challenge review: The Handmaid's Tale

This terrific novel is set in the near future, where the government as we know it is overthrown by a strict totalitarian regime based on religion. In this system men rule supreme, distinct classes are formed and women no longer have freedom, even to read, independence or control over their own bodies.

The story is told from the viewpoint of a handmaid, a woman whose only purpose in life is to procreate for her owner and his wife as fertility is now a rarity. The handmaid in question, Offred (“Of Fred” as she is stripped of her very name and is now the property of a commander named Fred), gives an interesting glimpse of a woman at the turn of this governmental upheaval. She clearly remembers her former life and the people who inhabited it, the memories of that life fresh enough for her to long for it, with great detail as she now acquiesces to her daily, bleak existence. Attempts of insemination by the commander himself, where even a hint of emotion is not allowed, not that she would want any as she is a mere vessel, an object used to further the human race and to give birth to a trophy for the wife to show off. This new world has been formed under guise of helping society based religion, a most dangerous thing when twisted by the hands of persons with an ulterior motive.

I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale very much. It’s not about a grand story of troops and wars, but one of a single woman and how she must shape her new hopes and dreams in a world that won’t allow her to pursue the things and people she truly loves. The ending was surprisingly abrupt, which jarred me at first, but after I read the epilogue that made the finale all the more poignant.

I give this novel 4/5 Iggystars