Book Review: The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

I know that I’m supposed to be working my way through The Magus by John Fowles, and I am, but sometimes I get swept away with something else. This time it was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. For one thing, The Magus is really big and a pain to lug around, so on my way out the door I grabbed the tiny paperback Handmaid’s Tale thinking it would be good BART reading. It was. I read it in a day.

The book is very poignant and well written, the characters are engaging, the story is imaginative, but it runs into the same problem I have with most science fiction: it’s all so out there. There is no debating over what this book is about or is supposed to mean. This is a book about misogyny and the rights of women, concentrating strongly on taboos concerning women’s sexuality in western cultures and the role of the woman was “baby maker.” You know very quickly what you are getting into, but I liked the book, I’d recommend it definitely, and I think that it’s an important read. The Handmaids Tale highlights the very male centric aspects of the world that we live in today by showing us a world where those aspects has been taken to the extreme. This at once made me realize these faults, but also be grateful for the freedoms that I do have, the liberties that have been won for me by the generations before, the liberties that I will continue to fight to protect.

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