The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Book Review

Dystopia, Classics




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Book Review

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood


Dystopia, Classics

(The above links for Amazon and Kobo are affiliate links & I earn a small commission if you purchase a book through them)

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood


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The above link(s) for Amazon and/or Kobo are affiliate links & I earn a small commission if you purchase a book through them at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.


“Every month there is a moon, gigantic, round, heavy, an omen. It transits, pauses, continues on and passes out of sight, and I see despair coming towards me like famine. To feel that empty, again, again. I listen to my heart, wave upon wave, salty and red, continuing on and on, marking time.”


The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that has been reviewed and analyzed by millions of people. The story is set in the near future, within the United States of America. The country had undergone an extreme change in government, which led to a sharp decline in civil liberties. The populations’ rights were taken away and replaced with new laws and regulations to govern their lives. This book tells the story of Offred, one such woman who has lost her identity as she exists only for procreation while living under a totalitarian regime. The novel explores themes such as sexual oppression, freedom, gender roles, and religion, while it also provides insights into what living in an extremist society does to the human psyche. Would you survive, or would your mind fracture?


The book The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, is a riveting and masterful reading experience. One that I can not recommend enough. We explore Gilead through the eyes of Offred. Her life is ordered and circumscribed by an oppressive society, which she sees as a ludicrous parody of life.

We see Offred struggle to come to terms with this cruel and terribly unequal place she’s now a prisoner of–Gilead, a totalitarian society, now under a Christian fundamentalist regime that has “returned to traditional values.” Values where women are considered to be little more than property. We explore oppression, misogyny, the question of how far men will go to retain power, the role that religion plays in subjugating women, feminism, sexual oppression, the fragile yet resilient psyche.

The book’s first-person narrative draws us into Offred’s world and shows the dehumanizing effects of living in an authoritarian society. The book’s strength lies in the author’s ability to convey how quickly things can change when power shifts hands, but also what it feels like to live in a world where women are denied their agency and treated as property.

The contrast between light poetic prose and the atrocious events in this book makes it read less like a horror story but instead an exploration; Less about what might happen if such terrible things were allowed to happen, and more about what is wrong with human nature. The Handmaids Tale is a cautionary allegory for those who have lost sight of what they’re fighting for.

The book does not have much dialogue, but the first-person narrative makes it compelling and intensifies this new world. We dig deep into how totalitarianism tears down people’s individuality and enforces the ideologies of a new, oppressive system. It’s thought-provoking and forces us to think about how fragile all societies are in times of war or change. The book captures the human psyche in a time of oppression and shows how it’s hard to keep a hold on your own identity when you’re overwhelmed by forces beyond your control.

I’m becoming a bit repetitive now, trying to be vague and not give away any spoilers. Yes, I know it sounds heavy, but I strongly recommend reading this beautiful, complex, and suspenseful dystopian novel. The Handmaid’s Tale will keep you guessing until the very end; it’s a timeless, thought-provoking classic with ideas that will haunt you long after you’re done reading it. Please read it now!




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“There is more than one kind of freedom," said Aunt Lydia. "Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.”

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