The Handmaid’s Tale Book Review

The Handmaid's Tale Book Review header

I finished listening to the audio book of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I have not watched the series or the movie, so this review will be based solely on the book.

Screenshot of The Handmaid's Tale audio book

The Handmaid’s Tale was originally published in 1985, but the themes of the book are still relevant to today. The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the near-future in the Republic of Gilead where women are only seen as property and a means of producing offspring. The story follows the recount of Offred who is a handmaid for a high-ranking couple who cannot have children of their own. In the patriarchal society, women are either fertile or infertile while men cannot be sterile. Infertile women are servants and housekeepers while the fertile woman are forced into being handmaids to have children with the Commanders (the high-ranking men). Handmaids also do not keep their name and instead they are named after the Commander (for example Offred is named after the Commander Fred as she is Fred’s property hence of Fred). Women also cannot get an education and work and they are forbidden to read and write. The story is intriguing and also disturbing because Offred tells of her present monotone life as well as how the normal society where she had a job, a husband, and a daughter became Gilead. She also talks about her time at the Rachel and Leah Center (also referred to as the Red Center) where she was trained to be a handmaid and indoctrinated with the beliefs of the new society by the Aunts. When I first started listening to the book, I did not want to stop because I wanted to know what life was like for Offred and how the United States became a totalitarian and theocratic state. The plot of The Handmaid’s Tale seemed like it could never happen in a modern society, but the more I read the book, the more I understood and saw how it was plausible. The ending of Offred’s recount was ambiguous, and the reader is left to decide her fate. I am normally not a fan of open-endings, but given the events that happened it makes sense for Offred’s story. After Offred’s recount ends, there is an epilogue that is set even further into the future. In the epilogue a professor discusses how they discovered Offred’s story, and he tried to make assumptions about whom Offred and the other characters in her story were. This section gave a very different perspective of what happened in Offred’s story, and it is also a reflection of how current society remembers the past.

Overall, I would recommend everyone to read The Handmaid’s Tale because it is a plausible account of what could happen in a male-dominated religious-fueled society.

$13.33 at Book Depository

Rate: 9/10

Have you read or watched The Handmaid’s Tale?

35 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale Book Review

  1. I want to read this book! I just finished the TV series which was ask fantastic. I know itโ€™s based on the book but itโ€™s slightly different (name, different plots etc). Iโ€™m going to add this to my reading list!

    Great review ๐Ÿ’–

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I would love to watch or read it!! I think I’ll listen to the book first [never listened to an audio book] and then watch the series but I heard so many good things about it. Plus, your review encouraged me more to watch/read it!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This was the first audio book i listened to! I know people who read it complained about the writing style & also in the epilogue the prof said Offred’s story was found on cassette tapes so it fit well with listening to the book ๐Ÿ˜Š
      I want to watch the series now too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read the book nor have I seen the series. But I have heard some very good things about: and this review makes that pretty clear ๐Ÿ˜€Wonderful post and a good reminder I need to start reading/watching this ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to know the series is good ๐Ÿ˜Š
      It would be horrible if men took over b/c they would take away all the rights of women like in the book/series!


  4. Great review! I have read the book and seen a couple episodes of the series, and holy smokes, I am hooked! I love how raw Atwoodโ€™s story is. Itโ€™s so interesting to think of a world like that, which probably explains why I stayed up all night until I finished it. I hope you enjoy the series if you are able to watch it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love the idea of the series (even after only watching the pilot episode), but I didnโ€™t like the book. Iโ€™m not a fan of books or story lines that are left open-endedโ€ฆ Like, I need to know what happened to Offred and I need to know when I get to the last page of the book.

    What I did like about the book is the dystopian Gilead Atwood created! It definitely made me think about the current political climate in the US and how my life would change if I were to magically transport (hopefully not) to Gilead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I felt the same way at first about the open-ending, but her life in Gilead was ambiguous so it’s appropriate. She didn’t know what happened to Luke & she only saw a pic of her daughter & knew she was w/ some couple. She also heard her mom was in the Colonies & saw Moria at Jezebel’s. There’s no telling what happened to the other handmaids either so at least Offred got to tell her story up til to the point she left in the van.
      I definitely wouldn’t want to be transported to Gilead! It would be horrible living in a male-dominated society.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This series was actually the first time I EVER watched something before reading the book – crazy I know. Thank you for your review of the book. I am excitedly waiting for my copy. Something I found interesting was that in an interview with Margaret Atwood, she explains that she doesn’t bring any new ideas into the book. Every last grotesque scene is something that has already happened throughout history. Humans are nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is crazy! I always read the book before I see the movie/series haha
      I hope you like the book! ๐Ÿ˜Š
      I didn’t know that. That is really disturbing that the scenes actually happened at some point in history.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read the book a long time ago, and it also seemed very relevant back then. A metaphor and a warning. I also clearly understand why it was made into series, although I’m afraid the series will only take the “juicy” parts, making it “game-of-thrones” style which will not be the same as the book, of course. I’m not going to watch the series though. The book was quite enough in the amount of horror it brings to imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It says a lot when a book can stay relevant over the years. That makes sense. I know the first season ends where the book ends so I have no idea what the second season is like. Yes the book is disturbing, but I would like to watch the series to see how it compares.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I read it a long time ago. I think a lot of people don’t realise that the situation in the book isn’t really likely to happen anytime soon in the West but is already in place in many less developed and more patriarchal societies such as Saudi Arabia. So let’s help our sisters there now rather than getting in a panic about a future we’re probably never going to experience?


  9. It’s a hard read with dark reality but an equally important read. The more you read, the more you realize that the current political situation in the States, infused with hate and division makes the book real. That’s the art of writing and an art that the Canadian author Margaret Atwood is strongly skilled at. To assume that a reality like in the book, is only possible in countries half way across the world, is ignorance. Think, why would the author write a book that was only for one society and doesn’t apply to wider masses. Think Me Too campaign. Instead trying to help our ‘sisters’ half way across the world, let’s start at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree it’s an important read and it’s a reflection of the current state of the US. If we continue to let things go the way they are then the book could very well become a reality. I also agree that we need to help ourselves before we can look towards helping others on the other side of the world.


  10. I’m currently watching the series (when school work isn’t suffocating me… Lol). Loved your book review and I’ll read the book, probably after I finish the series so that I don’t end up just seeing if it matches up with the book instead of simply enjoying it. ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’•

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A friend gifted me this book on my birthday but I have been a bit apprehensive of starting for just one reason – it might turn out to be too depressing. Though after reading the review I guess even if it is depressing I shall read it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ๐Ÿ™‚ It will be great if you could go through my blog and share your feedback. I started writing few months back only and it will be great to have feedback from the experienced once. Thanks in advance.


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