I finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale last night and wanted to write down my thoughts on it while they were still fresh.
The world-building in this one was really something. The style of the writing was poetic in this unusual way that shouldn’t really work, but does anyway. I loved the way the story unfolds; as the book progresses the chapters get shorter and disordered, which adds to the building tension in the story. Offred keeps apologising to the reader. The story gets more erratic and unsure of itself because it’s Offred’s story. As time goes on she doesn’t lose control, but I think she does lose hope, and because of this starts to exercise control over her situation and make more and more risky decisions.
The ending felt abrupt, but it was meant to. We don’t know what happens to Offred in the end. So long as she was the narrator she was more to us than just another handmaid in a red dress, bowing her head and saying nothing, and I felt as though being robbed of the end of her story made her feel faceless again. The other handmaids didn’t feel like characters worth caring about because Gilead silenced them.
Moira was my favourite character but really she was one of the only characters; Offred knew her before Gilead and that’s the only reason why Moira has a name and a past and a personality. It’s only because of Offred that she isn’t another handmaid to us. The fact that we don’t know what happens to her really hurts, because she is given the same ending as the handmaidens who were stripped of their personalities and freedom.
I really enjoyed this read, it was completely absorbing and very well paced. It’s being made into a TV series this year (starring Samira Wiley as Moira, which I’m excited about), and I’m keen to see how they’ll tell Offred’s story.