REVIEW: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Official Description: More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”

Just the facts: Dystopian future, the sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”, three narrators.

A remarkable journey through Gilead and through time… via the voices of three very significant narrators. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit:  I read the Handmaid’s Tale when it came out in 1985. It was the year I graduated from High School and I was already aware that the world I was heading out into was very different for men and women. I was also the daughter of two great, supportive parents… and my Mum’s first job was as a police officer in England. I was raised to know that women were strong and creative and committed. Margaret Atwood was the first author I connected with … previous to reading her books, I had always preferred books authored by men… I’m not sure why.

My world changed when I read The Handmaid’s Tale. I remember thinking all the way back in 1985 that it was a future that was possible.

Fast forward to 2017 when The Handmaid’s Tale first aired on tv… and behold, we are already living in a world in which some humans are struggling for their rights to simply exist. Gilead isn’t so far off anymore and some would argue that a place like the US is already well on its way.

Is The Testaments a good sequel? I think it is. I was engaged with the narrators from the moment I first began this story. Each of the three voices is distinct and in character. If you ever wanted to know more about the inner workings of Gilead then you will enjoy this read. Atwood peels back the layers of corruption and deception that have been present in Gilead from its birth.

If you continue reading… some very important elements in this book will be spoiled for you! You’ve been warned!

The narrators of this story are remarkable and couldn’t be more different from one another. My favorite is Aunt Lydia. Now, if you’ve been watching the TV show, this is where things get interesting. I haven’t looked up how much Atwood has to do with the television production but I loved her version of Aunt Lydia that is in The Testaments. Aunt Lydia is writing a testament. From her initial days being incarcerated to her progression through the ranks in Gilead. She isn’t who we’ve always thought she was and I loved the way Atwood kept Aunt Lydia walking the line between good and trying-to-survive.

Things are beginning to unravel in Gilead and the rot and decay that has been there from the beginning is eating away at its foundations. Also, women are pitted against women because that’s what happens in a world in which everyone has to claw for their right to survive. We see that every day when minority groups discriminate against minorities within the group.

This sequel was everything I wanted.

Does it compare to the TV program? Does it matter? … would be my answer. I feel like there are people who would never have found these books if it weren’t for the TV series. Don’t get me wrong, I watch it and I love it. I think it’s a fabulous TV show. But, I prefer the books and in a way, the books feel like a different world to me.

I would like to recommend the audiobook. If you’re like me and spend a good portion of every week commuting… this is a marvelous listen. I’m very hard on Audiobooks and I find it I don’t like the narrator immediately then I won’t listen to it. This audiobook is read by Margaret Atwood, Derek Jacobi, Tantoo Cardinal, Mae Whitman, Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard. It’s wonderful… and the actors do a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life. My only criticism was that one of the narrators clearly had an American accent when she should, in fact, have sounded Canada. But it’s the future… so who knows!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Descriptions of executions, descriptions of group beating someone to death, descriptions of tattoo and scarification, misogyny, attempted sexual assault, false accusations of sexual assault, physical and sexual child abuse, descriptions of a car bombing that kills people, incarceration, torture.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher


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