THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

85%

28 Critic Reviews

All in all, this is a first-class novel which has held up with the passing years, and has well earned its status as a modern-day classic.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

A chilling look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction. Reissue.
 

About Margaret Atwood

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Born November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Canada, Margaret Atwood spent her early years in the northern Quebec wilderness. Settling in Toronto in 1946, she continued to spend summers in the northern woods. This experience provided much of the thematic material for her verse. She began her writing career as a poet, short story writer, cartoonist, and reviewer for her high school paper. She received a B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1961 and an M.A. from Radcliff College in 1962. Atwood's first book of verse, Double Persephone, was published in 1961 and was awarded the E. J. Pratt Medal. She has published numerous books of poetry, novels, story collections, critical work, juvenile work, and radio and teleplays. Her works include The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Power Politics (1971), Cat's Eye (1986), The Robber Bride (1993), Morning in the Buried House (1995), and Alias Grace (1996). Many of her works focus on women's issues. She has won numerous awards for her poetry and fiction including the Prince of Asturias award for Literature, the Booker Prize, the Governor General's Award in 1966 for The Circle Game and in 1986 for The Handmaid's Tale, which also won the very first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987.
 
Published January 1, 1998 by Anchor Books.
Genres: . Fiction
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Critic reviews for THE HANDMAID'S TALE
All: 28 | Positive: 27 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Sep 16 2011

Atwood, to her credit, creates a chillingly specific, imaginable night-mare. The book is short on characterization--this is Atwood, never a warm writer, at her steeliest--and long on cynicism--it's got none of the human credibility of a work such as Walker Percy's Love In The Ruins. But the scariness is visceral...

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Aug 18 2008

All in all, this is a first-class novel which has held up with the passing years, and has well earned its status as a modern-day classic.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Kirsten Renfroe on Dec 07 2013

The reason why this novel is so, intriguing to read is because of the way Margaret Atwood takes the world that humans are accustomed to and transforms it into something so dark, but yet it can be seen as if this dystopian world could possibly happen.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Faatz on Oct 07 2012

The reader loves her, and is caught up in her story because the reader is led to ask what he or she would do in the same situation. That is what draws the reader in. She sees Offred and she sees herself.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Alexis Latshaw on May 02 2012

The society Atwood depicts may be extreme, but the rhetoric used in the novel echoes the rhetoric of current fundamentalist groups and, regardless of how it makes the reader feel, those issues should be brought to light and discussed, just in case.

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All About Romance

Excellent
Reviewed by Noelle Leslie de la Cruz on Aug 28 2014

Unlike other beloved keepers, this book is probably not one you'll want to read again and again. But because it simply demands a grade no lower than A, I wholeheartedly recommend it. However, please consider yourself forewarned that it's not for the faint of heart.

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Pajiba

Good
Reviewed by Genny on Aug 29 2009

The book follows the story of Offred's present...while also progressing through her memories of her life before the theocratic take-over and the details of her training as a handmaid. This interweaving of the storyline is effective because all of the facets are compelling, as well as being overwhelmingly depressing.

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SF Site

Excellent
Reviewed by Martin Lewis on Aug 28 2014

...a reminder not to forget woman's rights are a fairly recent development...It is Atwood's astonishing skill as a writer and the brilliancy of her characterisation that provides this idea with its power.

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Stuff

Good
on Oct 18 2012

I didn't find The Handmaid's Tale an easy book to read, mainly because I could picture the bleak future that it painted, a little too closely for comfort.

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The Satirist

Good
Reviewed by Dan Geddes on Aug 28 2014

As a reading experience, The Handmaid's Tale, like most negative utopian literature, is more interesting as social critique than gripping as narrative.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Anne C. on Aug 22 2014

Atwood writes as if the narrator is describing her thoughts and experiences from memory...This gives her writing personality, as does her sparse use of quotation marks. This poignant and engaging story, though disturbing, is well worth the read.

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http://www.bookdrum.com

Above average
on Aug 22 2014

Despite the slight implausibility of the swiftness with which America falls under the regime, Atwood’s page-turner succeeds in its speculation – but it’s the speculation of life before the coup that rings most true in the 21st century...

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Jenn's Bookshelves

Good
Reviewed by Nicole Wolverton on Oct 24 2013

The Handmaid’s Tale was the most frightening book I’d ever read when I was fourteen because it represented an oppression that was completely foreign to me. I’m forty-one now, and the novel is even more frightening...

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Inverarity is not a Scottish village

Good
on Feb 26 2013

Don't read this to see Offred attempt a daring escape or join the rebellion. Read it for a finely executed narrative about what it's like to live under oppression dressed up as liberation, and all the ways in which people can be broken down.

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She Reads Novels

Good
on Dec 12 2012

I really liked Atwood’s writing, I loved the book and I know I haven’t been able to do it justice in this post. Some books are much easier to write about than others and this, for me, is not one of the easy ones.

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Pretty Books

Excellent
Reviewed by prettybooks on Aug 09 2011

I couldn’t help but notice that every phrase, every word, every object, every character, every dialogue had its purpose. Nothing was there without good reason...I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s just brilliant.

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http://roofbeamreader.com

Good
on Jan 26 2012

The world Atwood has created in The Handmaid’s Tale is by far the most important character in it. The plot is executed in such a way as to lend a feeling of suspense and mystery to the novel...

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Boston Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Marie Cloutier on Oct 02 2008

It's an amazing book. I don't think I could re-read it but I went on a three-year Margaret Atwood binge as soon as I could keep down heavy books again. She's an incredible writer and The Handmaid's Tale is one of her most powerful books. Wow!

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Caribous Mom

Excellent
Reviewed by Wendy on Nov 06 2007

Atwood is a genius at creating character. Offred’s voice is pitch perfect, taking the reader step by step through her horrible story. Even Serena Joy, the Commander Fred’s wretched wife, elicits sympathy from the reader. Atwood’s skill with language has never been more spot on then in this novel...

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The Book Lover's Boudoir

Excellent
on Oct 12 2012

The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. I’m glad I read it. I grabbed it at random from my library shelves and it paid out. I definitely want to read more of Atwood.

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Entomology of a Bookworm

Good
on Aug 06 2013

...The Handmaid's Tale proved just as haunting, just as important, and just as eye-opening the second time through as it did the first.

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Val's Random Comments

Good
Reviewed by Val on Jun 29 2013

The first person perspective of the story give us a very intimate view of the horrors of this particular regime. Atwood grants us luxury of an open ending...That is about the only ray of light in this tale. I am glad I read it but it is such an intensely disturbing book, that I doubt I'll be up for a reread any time soon.

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So Many Books

Below average
Reviewed by Stefanie on Dec 03 2012

I was kind of disappointed. I liked the book and everything, don’t get me wrong. I found it intense and frightening, a story that is still all too possibly real. The writing is good, the story moves along and I found myself fearing for the safety of Offred. I hated the ending.

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Speculative Book Reviews

Good
on Apr 16 2010

Her role as a handmaid aims to dehumanise and objectify her, yet she is able to rise above this and retain her sense of self. To convey this through simple straightforward prose is a testament to Margaret Atwood’s skill as a writer. This is classic science fiction at its finest.

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Dog Ear Discs

Excellent
on Aug 22 2014

While Atwood’s earlier novels set up her future as a commentator of the times, The Handmaid’s Tale defines her as one of the best to perceive humanity as it truly can be. Not only that, but it elevates her into a renowned status as one of the finest literary minds the world will ever see.

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https://www.worldswithoutend.com

Good
Reviewed by Scott Laz on Aug 29 2012

The Handmaid’s Tale, then, remains useful food for thought. At least for now, it remains on the shelf next to Nineteen Eight-Four. It would be nice if they both became irrelevant.

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http://startnarrativehere.com

Above average
Reviewed by Jess on Sep 15 2009

Dystopian science fiction with a decidedly feminist twist, The Handmaid’s Tale offers a chilling glimpse of an all too possible future.

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Flourish Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Johanna Garnett on Jul 01 2011

Whilst this book could be viewed as apocalyptic and does address some thought provoking questions, I love this book because ultimately the basic human need to love, hope, desire and feel will always give one freedom to be and that I feel, is the biggest message of all.

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Reader Rating for THE HANDMAID'S TALE
77%

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Katrina Bernardo

Katrina Bernardo 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list