#BookReview: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What’s it about?

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.

 

 

 

My thoughts

Seriously…what can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said!!?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it but the buzz around the Channel 4 TV adaptation had me picking up a copy for our book club read which overall was received quite well.

I have to admit I didn’t love the writing style.  I much prefer to read with speech in quotation marks, rather than just pages and pages of block text – on a first glance this would really put me off.  Having said that, on this occasion I found it quite easy to read, not the heavy going slog I had honestly expected from one of the books everyone should read.

It’s probably been said so many times this was just so thought-provoking and shocking! This Government sanctioned abuse was just downright horrifying.  Made even more so because even though it was written in 1985 some of Atwood’s thoughts are still so relevant today.  This may sound strange given it’s of a futuristic nature; it’s just so cleverly written the content doesn’t date it and feels as though it could have been published yesterday.

I had such admiration for Offred’s character; her fear and courage jumped off the page and her astounding strength of character truly makes her one of the best female characters ever written and that I’ve ever read.

I’m also loving the tv adaptation and the additions to the plot they’ve made.  Seeing it on screen actually makes the whole idea seem so much darker and terrifying.  And Elisabeth Moss is just incredible in it.  Although a lot of what’s happened isn’t explained in the book or tv series, it just is what it is, and so you’re left to draw your own conclusions; such as, how many States has this affected or is it the whole of the US? Where are the Colonies and do they actually exist or is this a story that is fed to the Handmaid’s to keep them under control? Are those that were sent to the Colonies actually dead? What caused the War that led to this regime? Maybe these questions will be more explored in the second series…..Loved it, 5*, read it if you haven’t! 🙂

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 324
Publisher: Vintage

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Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984What’s it about?

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

My thoughts

I picked this copy up quite recently from a charity shop as it was a book I’d never read although heard alot about. The first thing I noticed when I opened the book was the pages of solid black print and my heart sank. Before I’d even read a word I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read.

For most of part one I didn’t quite get what was going on, it took me longer to read than usual and I found myself re-reading parts to fully understand. For example, I didn’t get what they meant by Newspeak and it wasn’t till it was compared to Oldspeak that the penny dropped!

I skipped over the majority of Part 2 and the ins and outs of the Brotherhood’s book; this was real heavy-going philosophical, sociological theories (I think) and was almost like reading a text book and I didn’t feel that it added much to the story.

I liked the parts where Winston and Julia were sneaking around and the element of danger and all that they were risking, and I also liked the majority of Part 3 and was desperately hoping for a different outcome for Winston. I’m still not entirely convinced I understand the end though.

I can appreciate how reading this book over sixty years ago when first published could have been completely terrifying. Almost as shocking as those who heard War of the Worlds on the radio and believed it to be true. Even reading thirty years ago + or maybe even twenty would still have have felt like a shocking and somewhat alarming read but given the world we live in now and how full of technology we are; it didn’t feel as frightening as I suspect it would have.

I know we’re supposed to love classics but unfortunately this book left me underwhelmed. It’s very intelligent and a clever idea for its time highlighted by the fact that key phrases have become incorporated into everyday life; Big Brother, Room 101 etc but parts left me cold.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Learn more about George Orwell here

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Book Review: The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

The-ShipWhat’s it about?

WELCOME TO LONDON

BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

Oxford Street burned for three weeks. The British Museum is occupied by ragtag survivors. The Regent’s Park camps have been bombed. The Nazareth Act has come into force. If you can’t produce your identity card, you don’t exist.

Lalla, sixteen, has grown up sheltered from the new reality by her visionary father, Michael Paul. But now the chaos has reached their doorstep. Michael has promised to save them. His escape route is a ship big enough to save five hundred people. But only the worthy will be chosen.

Once on board, as day follows identical day, Lalla’s unease grows. Where are they going? What does her father really want?

WHAT IS THE PRICE OF SALVATION?

My thoughts

So after reading Station Eleven which I loved, my first ever dystopian apocolyptic type novel, I thought I’d have a read of another. This genre is quite different to my usual type of read and I did like this book even if a little slow and not quite what I thought it would be.

The protagonist, Lalla, has so far led a sheltered, spoilt life living in the comfort of her family’s heavily secured flat without having to really worry what’s happening on the outside. And then they flee on The Ship and she starts to question everything but she manages to do it in this sterotypical teenage full of attitude way in that she thinks she knows best – and as a reader you question, does she? The adults are content and happy, safe with the life that The Ship has to offer but Lalla has to deal with the realisation that this is it; these people will die here, and their children and it’s all too claustrophobic for her and for the most part of the book its her internal emotional turmoil in whether to follow the crowd and be what they want her to be or break free…..

If you’re looking for the next Divergent, Hunger Games etc then this isn’t it. It’s not action packed and doesn’t dwell on the dystopian theme but is more of an emotive journey of self-discovery and following your gut instinct and therefore an interesting take on a coming of age novel in a different time with a different set of rules.

One of the main things I questionned to myself was how Michael was able to accumulate the amount of food and supplies required to sustain life for 500 people indefinitely. He’s also managed to form this ‘cult’ without question and all the passengers view him as the next Messiah – this here is a disaster waiting to happen surely. Which brings me on to the cliffhangar of an ending….great setting up for a series!

Overall, it’s worth a read and reminded me of the movie 2012 with the arks and the whole survivor selection process.

p.s If you’ve read this, help me out and explain The Dove to me….

Many thanks to the publishers for approving me for a copy via Netgalley.

Get the book Hardback | Kindle

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Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

Station ElevenWhat’s it about?

DAY ONE The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.

WEEK TWO Civilization has crumbled.

YEAR TWENTY A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there.

Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.

My thoughts

Another book that has been the talk of the summer but unlike others I wasn’t disappointed by the hype and loved it! I’ve not read anything like this before, no dystopia, no post-apocalyptic or end of world. I don’t really even know why I requested it via Netgalley other than the Twitter hype.

This is a really strange book to describe, I’m not one to pigeon-hole books into specific genres but this one doesn’t seem to fit into any one in particular. Don’t be put off by the post-apocolyptic theme as isn’t so much about the effects of the post-apocalyptic era but more about the characters and the hope they bring in what I felt was a very character led novel, with each of them bringing something different and uniquely appealing.

The book starts with the death of Arthur Leander on stage whilst performing in King Lear and as as the plot moves back and forth between pre and post collapse we see how various characters he affected are connected and intertwine in the New World, whilst clues are woven in that something is coming that will change the world as we know it.

It feels typical in its content relating to the aftermath of the flu, civilisation has changed beyond recognition; no transport, no electricity, no radio or communication and the biggest being no internet! But people manage, people are surviving and living. There is even The Travelling Symphony performing Shakespeare plays in remote and random lawless towns – although I did find it odd that members of the Symphony would refer to others in the group by their instrument type, maybe this is the norm in orchestras.

This is more than just a post-apocalyptic novel, this is about hope and remembering the past (The Museum of Civilisation) but also about moving forward.

Overall, a beautifully written, frighteningly realistic engrossing and absorbing read that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan to approving me for a copy via Netgalley.

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