Number of Pages: 324
Publication Date: February 17, 1986
Rating: out of 5
Story Perspective: First Person
Themes: Feminism, Oppression, Gender Roles, Religion, Social Order
In a society where marriage is more of a convenience for some while others it’s not an option, where public executions are used as lessons, and where the future is unknown, follow Offred as she tries to make sense of her new world.
Being a Handmaid, Offred is only allowed to do certain activities, say certain things, and go to certain places. It takes much effort to remember who she is and it’s nearly impossible to make any social connections. She floats through this world and her only goal is survival and hope to see her loved ones once again.
Oh, this book. I had high hopes for this read and was really excited to read it. Unfortunately, this was a sort of middle-of-the-road book for me.
The author jumps right into the society Offred lives in and weaves in her past throughout. I really like this writing style when it’s done well. For most of the beginning and middle, the author does a nice job in this area. However, where this book falls short is all of the unanswered questions toward the end. I’ll try not to get too spoiler-y, but there were so many plot holes here that it is really hard to say I fully enjoyed the read.
For instance, Offred’s past stops at a certain point and we never find out more. Then, her friend, Moira, was left without a resolution. Finally, the ending…geez, the ending. I understand that part of living in this society, there are many aspects that are unknown, but it is so frustrating as reader to not know so much. It makes me question – did the author herself know the answers to all these questions?
I also felt that toward the end, the writing style changed. In the beginning and most of the middle, Offred speaks about her life as is, but toward the end, it’s almost as if Offred is speaking to the reader. Personally, I don’t like character shifts like that; it’s distracting. Right around this, Offred also does this thing where she tells the reader something happens, but wait, just kidding, it didn’t happen this way…it happened this way…oh wait, just kidding, it was this way. Urgh…this was frustrating to read about a scene that was experienced by the character and the reader is presented with fake multiple versions of this scene.
Overall, the characterization is fine, the grammar is fine, but the plot holes and switching character perspectives is just too much for me. I have heard that the show does/will do a better job in answering and filling in the plot holes – I hope so because I do want to watch the show adaptation!