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Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke when she played with and protected her daughter when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge But all of that is gone now back cover I NightI am lying awake in my bed I keep my eyes closed and beg sleep to come Fruitlessly Outside, the rain is whipping the windows without mercy My husband is sleeping next to me, oblivious to my struggle I need my thoughts to go away I need to forget that I just finished the Handmaid s Tale and its effect on me I knew I should have resumed myself to the self imposed daily quota of 10% But no I had to read the last 30 % in one go and now I can t sleep because of it It s like a shot of caffeine to my veins How can I review such a book How can I explain how I feel I don t even know I can t say I enjoyed it I was both dreading and expecting to open the pages I wanted it to be over, like I want a punishment to be over It made me choke I was uncomfortable and in pain the whole 312 pages However, I was also in awe to the power and poetry of Atwood s writing The last novel they made me feel this way was Never Let Me Go I can still smell the heavy the heavy atmosphere Submission This is it Both were about submission to a terrible destiny I could not understand and accept it then and I cannot do it now Or can I What would I do to survive, if submission were the only hope There is a knot in my throat What she wrote in this novel, the world she created is absurd isn t it It cannot happen, not in a million years, right We are past this, we have evolved enough We cannot get there It would be terrible, unthinkable It is absurd to think that people s will can be so easily obliterated, that minds can be erased and that fear can rule one s life into submission And still Kim Jung Un in Korea, Putin in Russia, recently the election in Turkey Trump is just as dangerous Le Pen can become the next president in France Yes the daughter of the man that said that Holocaust did not exist The world is a dangerous place and freedom is fragile We need to open our eyes, be vigilant and never be complacent with what we have so it is not taken from us I still cannot sleep The rain becomes even punishing My mind races I think about the past of my country In the end of the novel, at Historical Notes, there were a few examples of other similar regimes that reacted as Gilead It said that Romania has anticipated Gilead in the eighties by banning all forms of birth control, and imposing other restrictions How I wished this was also part of the author s imagination Ok, there were no compulsory pregnancy tests and promotion did not depend on fertility but a decree was passed by Ceausescu, our last communist president where all birth control and abortion was banned The punishment for not complying was severe women were imprisoned and beaten to confess During the 20 years when the decree was in place, than 10,000 women died from illegal, mostly home made abortions Another world where men controlled women s body Not so long ago We cannot go back to that, can we Motherhood Another hurtful subject To have your child taken away from you To be unable to have a child and have your husband conceive with someone else while you watch A nightmare for any woman or man No love, no sex for pleasure No, here I draw the line I cannot see this happen And still Historical NotesThe above memoir of a distressed reader that could not sleep because of the Handmaid s Tale, was found in the notes of a mobile phone It is hard to identify the person that wrote the document as there were probably many people that lost sleep over this novel in Atwood s republic She tends to write some uncomfortable stuff, that author We cannot confirm the authenticity of the document, still the disturbed tone suggests that the person actually read the Handmaid s Tale and was deeply impressed by it And scared.P.S I found in another review an interesting article wrote by Atwood where she discusses the book. It s been almost five years since I wrote my review I ve rewritten large parts of it for clarity The main idea remains the same Extremist Judeo Christian beliefs have won America s culture war Now women have no rights They are slaves to men and the biblical, patriarchal society in which they live The Handmaid s Tale is the first person account of one of these enslaved women.Massachusetts Turns Into Saudi Arabia More than thirty years have passed since The Handmaid s Tale was first published in 1985, but many still think of it as the go to book for feminist fiction It makes numerous best of lists, the kinds with 99 other books everyone should read before dying Even so, The Handmaid s Tale frustrates me a lot and not only because it contains run on sentences and needlessly abandons quotation marks This is no train wreck like Jos Saramago s Blindness, but it s bad enough Simply put, if you can ignore whether you agree or disagree with Margaret Atwood s ideas about politics, religion, and women s rights, the plot and setting make no sense.The religiosity of the Reagan era inspired Atwood s dystopia, in which fundamentalist Christians have taken over society While that premise does give me the heebie jeebies, Atwood s taken the idea to a literal extreme to make a point This ruins the foundation of The Handmaid s Tale because most American fundies would balk at this world Atwood imagines the extreme of the extreme and in the process completely misunderstands American evangelicalism I m a heathen bastard and no fan of religion Fundamentalism has hurt people, particularly women, for millennia Extremism continues to hurt people every day, especially in some parts of the world, especially in some states Even so, it s hard to accept Atwood s dystopia when it s set in the U.S., in the near future and in Massachusetts, one of the most progressive states in the country, one of only sixteen states in the union with state constitutional protections for abortion since 1981, I believe Massachusetts is a liberal bastion when it comes to American women s reproductive rights, so it s an odd setting for this brand of nightmare In recent decades, Massachusetts is also one of the least religious states, so it s an odd setting for a theocracy, too.Atwood chose Massachusetts for its puritanical history I can embrace the connection to the Reagan administration, in the same way I can embrace Orwell s fear of communism in 1984, but to imagine an unchanging, puritanical Massachusetts requires a bit too much Societies Don t Change OvernightThe Handmaid s Tale is told in first person by a woman who s lived in our present day or less , as well as in this dark fundamentalist Tomorrowland She s gone from wearing flip flops and sundresses to a full body religious habit, color coded red to match her subservient role She was married once, had a child Now she s another s property, one of the handmaids sent from one man s house to another The hope is that she will become pregnant when a prominent man s wife cannot Her life has been flipped and made forfeit She lives in fear and depression and abuse This is meant to make me unnerved, and it does.But.Simply because an author wants to comment on society doesn t mean he or she can ignore important, logical story elements The logic part should be emphasized here, I think, given this is supposed to be science fiction, not fantasy Although Atwood does insist The Handmaid s Tale is speculative fiction, because that further legitimizes her storyor something Never mind that sci fi and fantasy are types of speculative fiction There s a question I have that never gets answered, not properly at least How did this happen so quickly How did we go from burning bras to having every part of our lives regulated Why did it take Massachusetts decades, centuries, to reject puritanism, but only a few years to reject liberalism Rights can erode, but you don t see it happen on such a large scale and so seamlessly, and not overnight Nothing happens overnight, especially not governmental takeovers in relatively stable, secular societies, which is the book s scenario Societies evolve, one way or another, usually rather slowly Civil, moral, and regime changes don t sneak up on you It wasn t the case in Germany before Hitler, in China before Mao, in Afghanistan before the Taliban, in Syria before its civil war It s not the case in 2016, with people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump leading in GOP primary polls The world may be disappointing and horrible sometimes, but it is rarely surprising.If Atwood had built her dystopia on a chain of events that occurred over a longer period of time, or explained how everything unraveled so quickly, I might have been on board with the premise That isn t how The Handmaid s Tale is written, though The explanations for the sudden changes are fantastical, at best, dependent on evil, digitized money be careful with the mobile payments and bitcoins, ladies and misogynistic, conservative conspiracies that readers are to believe could bring millions of people to a stupefied halt and change culture in the blink of an eye view spoiler Apparently it s easy to gun down all of Congress while it s in session Who knew hide spoiler 5 22 19Looking back on my original review, it reads as quaint compared to the draconian state laws recently being passed, my state of Ohio being one of them Make no mistake, this not about life it s about controlling women If you can t decide what happens to your own body you do not have freedom This is about bodily autonomy Women have the RIGHT to legal and safe abortions with no qualifications The fact that the narrative has gone to in cases of rape and incest is troubling Rapeincestlife of the mother.horrible birth defects.you re young, single and not ready.you have five kids and can t afford , it doesn t matter This is a medical procedure and pregnancy is a risky condition, it can cause death Every woman has the right to decide whether or not they want to take that risk Period.Men don t have anything that compares to this No law is forcing them have vasectomies, or even denying them their bonner pills.7 7 17 I m just going to leave this here fuck Paul Ryan but not literally, ew Sleeveless women My stars and garters 03 31 17 So, this Russia thing Am I right 2 5 17..just another giant step towards making this book a reality, like they always dreamed of.Original review written in 2o12 WARNING This review is being written after I worked a 13 hour day, with another one on the horizon tomorrow, and a glass of wine and while watching the Rachel Maddow show Current events have put this book on the forefront of my mind, and damn it I got to get this out I have never written a review on The Handmaid s Tale because I love the book, and it is so hard to write about a book you love Ehh, what the hell.OfFred was a normal everyday woman with a career, a name, a life like all women have come to expect and take for granted in this age When the Religious Right came into power, they began to put into practice their insane beliefs which strip women of their identity, their rights, their body, their very name Women are to be called Of whatever asshat they belong to , instead of, say Beatrix Reproduction is an issue because all the toxins in the environment have rendered many women infertile But if you are fertile, woe to you, you get to be a baby factory against your will, get promised to some jerk you don t love or even like because someone deemed him important enough to breed Oh, come on This book was written in 1986, FYI I thought it was scary and sort of possible when I first read it, but farfetched This could NEVER happen in the United States of America Never would it be allowed to happen here, we are too educated.So I turn on the news in twothousandandfrikntwelve and certain religious factions on the right are trying to defund Planned Parenthood, because they perform abortions which is only 3% of what they do with NO federal going towards them Mostly PP provides healthcare to women who wouldn t get it otherwise..icky poor women Now it s birth control Seriously Birth control Did I wake up in 1950 Am I stuck in a Atwood novel 98% of Catholic women technically I m one of them use used birth control Even they are asking WTF I m not sure what these people are trying to do There are women than men and we vote unless that s the next right on the chopping block There have several updates to this review that I have removed to make room for the next what follows is the most recent one It s been nearly a week since the unimaginable happened and I had to let the shock wear off before I could put a coherent, non rage filled update on this review Not that I don t have rage, I have plenty to spare, but I think it s now at a level that is manageable enough for me not to just type out a string of obscenities That being said Update 11 14 16 An unqualified, racist, xenophobic, sexist, pathological liar, psychopathic reality star was elected to be the 45th president of the United States and the leader of the free world FUCK The United States has officially shat the bed Few foresaw it, but in hindsight, it was coming down the road for a very long time The United divided States voted for Hillary Clinton on whole popular vote by over 2,000,000 votes and counting millions are still out in California, for example , yet Donald Trump is our president elect gag due to an antiquated electoral college system which I could explain, but I m not because Google can do that better than I can Now, I m all for ditching the electoral college, unless the electors decide to do what it was intended to do under this circumstance to save us from ourselves See, our founding fathers knew that we would fall for some con artist, demagogue at some point in the future, so they wisely created the electoral college, a group of actual human beings trusted upon to stop such a calamity I implore the folks of current electoral college recognize this election as a collective loss of sanity of less than a quarter of the population of this nation, and on December 19th put their votes towards the popular vote winner, Hillary Clinton I realize that this is unlikely, but one can dream.How did this happen There are many factors involved Lots of opportunity for pointing fingers and fighting amongst ourselves, which I will admit to being a party to..guilty But, in my opinion, what it boils down to is these four things Division, misinformation, apathy and fear of the other Division We are all in our own comfortable bubbles, digesting the information we are most comfortable with For example, I never believed there was this much hate it this country because I didn t want to look at it I knew it was there of course, but not at the level that it appears to be Everyone wants to live where they feel they belong Amongst those that are like minded and reaffirm your very rightness Liberals don t want to live in Indiana or Ohio.sigh any than a conservative want s to live in Washington state We even do this in our social media as well guilty again This is what messed us up with the electoral college Misinformation I am not going to tell you who s right or wrong here, I ll let this study speak for itself.Apathy Half HALF the country didn t vote You guys suck.Fear of the other This country harbors racism than I can comprehend The white people in this country seemed a little angry about the black man in the white house and the white men were staunchly determined not to have a woman white or not follow him I don t mean all white men, just too many of them chill The advantage for Trump among men is larger than the 7 point advantage Romney had in 2012 and much different than in 2008, when men preferred Obama over McCain by a single point PewResearchCenter But then there are the white women, 53% went for Trump..oh my sisters, I have no words.Which brings me to the reason why this update is relevant to this review and to this book for those who tell me that my opinion is unwarranted.again Is the United States a racist country, or a sexist country America has spoken, at least the ones who cared to speak, and the answer is a goodly amount of both , but in this election sexism won and women lost. I guess Atwood doesn t believe in quotation marks I don t think I ve ever come across a novel yet in which there is no distinction between the narrator and the character It took me quite a while to get used to that type of style of writing I had to go back and re read sentences again and again, which doesn t really lend itself to a relaxing reading experience, and it slowed me down quite a bit..First 100 pages Really annoying..why well because I felt like a juicy bone was being waved in front of my face Like when someone asks you, guess which celebrity died today and you ask, who and they say, well why don t you guess and you answer I don t know, I give up, just tell me , and this keeps going back and forth, back and forth, and finally you just want to say, forget it, it s not even worth it and walk away That s how I felt reading this book Kinda like Atwood was being childish about withholding the plot information because it gave her literary power and control over the reader, and keeps them hostage.Then I couldn t ignore this overwhelming feeling that the philosophy of this story was going to be something that didn t sit well with me However, I slowly realized it was just a typical novel, with no outstanding profundity whatsoever.One of the reasons I despise contemporary literature, and basically ceased reading it years ago is because contemporary writers almost always, almost 100% of the time, revert to the all essential shock value elements, what I like to call the cheap grabber In the back cover of The Handmaids Tale , it goes on to say Atwood takes many trends which exist today and stretches them to their logical and chilling.blah, blah, blahhhhhh and let me just state that I noticed the review by Newsweek long after I had already started reading the book It was probably noticed during one of those moments of frustration where I single handedly flipped the book around wondering, whatthefuckingfuck.I ll give you a perfect example of how she used this trend.I m reading about women in habits, who seem to be pious and obedient, living in the Republic of Gilead They walk with their heads bowed down, two by two whispering words to each other, such as blessed be , may the Lord Open and I receive with joy And this goes on say for about 100 pages or so Then suddenly out of the blue you read, He s fucking me Now it s not that I don t like the word fuck In fact I LOVE the word fuck Not as in I like to fuck , but as in, Fuck, my food is burning , or Fuck, I got my period on the mattress again So it s not like I m a fuck prude, cause I m not It s just that it didn t seem to fit in with the theme of the book and it was cheaply thrown in for shock value to keep up with the trend Now can anyone sit there and tell me Atwood couldn t have better and eloquently described that scene Halfway through the book, I stopped and assessed what I had gotten from it so far still nothing.It certainly had moments of intrigue, I give it that much Of course it had to have had intrigue because it s a pretty popular book But Atwood s writing from the beginning is so flawed It s as if it went straight from her hands to publishing without being proof read or edited.I m not a writer, but I am a reader, and I think I m certainly capable of recognizing whether a book flows or not, and this book just doesn t flow at all And what pisses me off the very most is that Margaret Atwood is presently supposed to represent one of Canada s top leading modern authors Just because a book sells a lot doesn t mean squat It s just a trend, a fad It s like when The Philadelphia Inquirer stated that PUSH a novel might find a place in the African American Literary canon I was like, WHAT are you kidding me that shit no effin way, no Look at The Davinchi Code Yes, I enjoyed the novel a lot, but I also recognize that Dan Brown probably won t be included as part of the American literary canon in 100 years either.Margaret Atwood, in my humble opinion is not the greatest of writers I ve seen reviewers on goodreads who are better at writing than she is.The only decent thing about this novel was the story line, and even that seemed like Daniel Steel fluff Oh and the other thing that got me was that the entire female democracy has fallen apart and all Of Fred could think of was her need to have sexual intimacy with a man Not to mention that she never seemed appropriately upset about the fact that her husband and daughter have been taken from her Has Maragaret Atwood ever seen the Movie Red Dawn with Patrick Swayze The wolverines c mon, man The other major problem with this novel is that there were so many questions unanswered What political reason behind the president day massacre Who were these people why were women targeted Why didn t women and their men fight back Those are questions I m asking just to humor the book At this point, the book was so leaky that It s not even worth asking questions about, because there aren t any answers I thought this book was going to have some psychological depth, but to me it was just like reading a cheap novel I can go on and on about other things that make this not a great novel, but it s not even worth it.I m extremely disappointed I thought this was going to be one of the good ones.Updated I m currently watching the Handmaids tale on Hulu, and it s one of the best shows I ve ever watched aside from breaking bad.