Another book to mark off my Popsugar reading challenge and since it is an audiobook it fits the book in a different format category.
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of 21st-century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.
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I have not dived into the audiobook world for a while and I have definitely realised how much I have been missing, whilst I can fall in and out of reading slumps I actually found that I was always able to concentrate when listening, I’m looking forward to the books that this will open up for me.
I think its safe to say that most people have heard of The Handmaid’s Tale whether it’s from the book or TV show and for some reason even though it is a genre that I will happily read I’ve never felt the urge to read it and I started watching the TV show before reading the book which is always a bit of a mistake for me because for some reason I can never fully immerse myself in the book if I’ve watched it first, so I figured I’d probably never manage to read it. However, when I found the audiobook I realised that maybe this was the way I could experience the book without falling into my usual pitfall especially because it was narrated by Elisabeth Moss who is synonymous with the story now.
A story that has a very timeless quality, it is a dystopia that is not outside the realm of possibility which is what makes it so haunting and that feeling of slight dread kind of seeps from the book to the reader easily. I think as well there are so many parallels that can be drawn between Offred’s world and life today which make this book stand the test of time, I can definitely empathise with the observations of the life she had before because of how drastically things have changed for everyone this past year, it’s all the small but really well-observed details that immersed me into the recollections feeling like I’m right there with her seeing the world as it once was.
There isn’t a reliance on a lot of action to move the story along instead it is a temperate pace that gives the reader more time to think about the situation that Offred and the handmaids find themselves in which adds to the chilling nature of the book. It is perversely fascinating experiencing the minutiae of Offred’s life set against such a violent society, it added to the suspense that you never knew what little infraction might be cause for punishment. The power plays are so interesting, the ever-changing subtle hierarchies between the women and the overwhelming sense of fear of not knowing who to trust and who might give Offred away, especially since in a male-led society there were also men not playing by the rules.
The only thing that disappointed me with the story is that even though Offred is given the opportunity to fight back she doesn’t take it and becomes consumed by her own feelings. I’m not saying that this isn’t an accurate response because I could imagine that happening and it felt very much in character but I just really wanted that little bit more rebellion, to know more about that aspect of the story.
Not that I doubted it but the narration was fantastic I thought it captured the atmosphere perfectly, and I liked the short and snappy chapters which made it easier to dip in and out without feeling like I couldn’t remember what had happened the last time I listened. This book has made me excited about audiobooks and I actually can’t wait to get to The Testaments now and discover the next part of the story.