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on 8 July 2017
I read this when it was first published in the 1980's and bought the Kindle and re-read it when I knew the series was being released recently. Told from a very intimate first person narration, 'The Handmaid's Tale' provides a gripping account of a young woman's struggle in a nightmare society in a dystopian future. Following a cataclysmic event, democracy is overturned, a progressive 'normal' Western society becomes an oppressive regime where women's civil rights and freedoms are things of the past.

This dystopia destroys individuality and freedom to achieve the perfect society. 'The Handmaid's Tale' takes place in the Republic of Gilead, where there is a caste system and strict rules to keep the community in order and to save the population by having complete control over reproduction.

The heroine, Offred, is now a Handmaid. She has borne a child, so since she is known to be fertile she is placed with a family who have been unable to conceive their own child. Any child she bears now will stay with Fred and his wife, while Offred will move to a new family (and receive a new name, since Handmaids are named for the head of the household where they live). "Humanity is so adaptable, my mother would say. Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations." - Offred

The Handmaid's Tale is like the best science fiction, themes in the book expose larger social commentary, holding our own society up to a confronting mirror.
It is chilling. Atwood is an excellent writer, and the subject is profound. If you haven't read this book, I urge you to. I will now watch the series...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 May 2017
What a cool / terrifying book.
Any book or story in any form that has you gnawing on every detail, desperate for more is a great thing. The only thing that could have been better was more!

Offred was the kind of unreliable narrator that I love to read. Atwood gave her and the overarching story a great mix between keeping the various scenes moving and cutting all over the place too much. I also liked the easily digestible chapter lengths; it's a real 'just one more chapter' read.

The universe was well-realised, and bolstered more at the end. I'd like to hear more about this time in Gilead. While I think the book was about right in length, I'd happily trade some of the slower set-up of the world for some more exposition.

While a lot of reviews have commented on the inconsistency in inverted commas, I didn't find it very distracting; rather it encouraged me to read passages multiple times to catch the rhythm Atwood set. It made the reading far more interesting and a part of the story in itself with some ludicrously tiny sentences.

A splendid read! It took a while to get moving which removes one star, but it was still easy to stick with because every page posed more questions to be answered.
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on 4 May 2017
I recently read the Oryx and Crake trilogy and was blown away by Atwood's perceptive take on society. In that she mentioned a wall being g built between the US and Mexico. In The Handmaids Tale she talks about the declining birth rate and the rise of surrogacy. She also predicts a Government take over based on the threat of Islamist forces. I think she must have a crystal ball. I thoroughly enjoyed this book but is not a comfortable read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 April 2018
I struggled to get into this one. It was written in the first person and many events and situations were not explained enough for me. I even resorted to Wikipedia to read their plot summary. I thought that by reading this novel before watching the TV series would help my comprehension, but not as much as I would have liked. The second half of the book held my interest more than the first half.
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on 28 June 2018
This book depressed me because it was too close to the social engineering and we're starting to introduce in modern 2018. It was also too close for comfort to the dystopian worlds depicted in Orwell's books.
It was also written in a style I was unused to. As it was almost entirely an inner dialogue, it was difficult to follow who said what when the narrator was reflecting on conversations and actions.
I haven't watched the TV show and I'm not sure I want to although it may be one of those rare occasions when the book is not as good as the film.
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on 5 August 2017
Tense and eerie, set as a viseral possibility even decades after it's release. Genius that leaves you with a palpable lingering echo of what could be a very believable alternate history/future (especially in these 'Trump Dynastic' times). The bonus foreword by Atwood adds texture to the novel and also the current TV series...of note was her 'synergy' of events; that every event (a 'rule' for the book) must have happened in our history before (in some form). The human condition rendered raw. Terrifying.
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on 7 October 2017
The Handmaid's Tale was chosen for our book club' August reading. I am the second of 10 to make it to the end, in October. The others gave up.
The book is slow, boring and confusing, there is no clarity to the events that have unfolded. It is many hours of my life wasted.
Having said that, those who gave up on the book have now watched the television series. It is still confusing and boring, but somehow compelling watching, and makes more sense, as much as it can, than the book ever did.
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on 2 July 2018
Found this book really hard to follow, not sure what I was expecting when I purchased this book but I found it hard to get into, didn’t hold my attention at all and I found the storyline didn’t make a lot of sense.
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on 2 October 2017
A brilliant look inside the life of Offred as she has to adapt to life as a breeder (handmaid) in the brutal dystopian society which has developed in parts of the US. The only part that let it down, in my view, was the lengthy professorial explanation years afterwards. I'd have preferred to let my imagination come to its own conclusion.
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on 13 November 2017
This book Illuminates the TV version making it a must read. Recommended to anyone interested in knowing why we should be vigilant about extreme and populist movements.
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