Customer Reviews for

The Handmaid's Tale

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

36 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

read it and take it as a warning

Everyone should read this book. Period. Take it as a warning, of what CAN happen in the U.S., if religious extremism is allowed to infiltrate our society, and if Church and State don't stay separate. And keep in mind that Atwood took the social/political circumstances i...
Everyone should read this book. Period. Take it as a warning, of what CAN happen in the U.S., if religious extremism is allowed to infiltrate our society, and if Church and State don't stay separate. And keep in mind that Atwood took the social/political circumstances in the book from real situations that have happened or are happening somewhere in the world. The writing pulls the reader in, and even though the subject is terribly depressing, you just can't quit reading it. Now that I've finished it, I can't quit thinking about it. I want to read about it, and talk about it, and read more by the author. But I won't read it again for a long time, because it's plausibility is just too disturbing. Any author who can instill such strong emotions in her/his readers is a very talented writer.

posted by constantreaderML on April 20, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

Don't get your hopes up...

This sounded like a really good book to me, with an author whose poetry I had read and liked, and a detailed distopian world, all the rave reviews and everything. It wasn't. A Handmaid's Tale tries for the realistic tone of Orwell and Huxley, but falls short so much tha...
This sounded like a really good book to me, with an author whose poetry I had read and liked, and a detailed distopian world, all the rave reviews and everything. It wasn't. A Handmaid's Tale tries for the realistic tone of Orwell and Huxley, but falls short so much that it made me feel embarrassed for her. It doesn't sound like a voice from a dark future so much as the ravings of someone who is blinded by their own over-the-top fantasies and fears. There were various places where I thought, yes, this is starting to feel right, maybe it will turn into an interesting story now- only to turn the page and watch it stumble back into the same rut. The mindset of women being victims is carried too far in this book, to the point where you constantly want to slap the narrator and tell her to stop whining and do something about it already. The concept of the enforced transition from a modern lifestyle to the one the book depicts in a single lifetime is not portrayed in a believable way, and though I imagine many people will get something from it, intelligent and open-minded women may want to skip this one, because it's not saying anything you don't already know.

posted by Anonymous on June 5, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005

    Don't get your hopes up...

    This sounded like a really good book to me, with an author whose poetry I had read and liked, and a detailed distopian world, all the rave reviews and everything. It wasn't. A Handmaid's Tale tries for the realistic tone of Orwell and Huxley, but falls short so much that it made me feel embarrassed for her. It doesn't sound like a voice from a dark future so much as the ravings of someone who is blinded by their own over-the-top fantasies and fears. There were various places where I thought, yes, this is starting to feel right, maybe it will turn into an interesting story now- only to turn the page and watch it stumble back into the same rut. The mindset of women being victims is carried too far in this book, to the point where you constantly want to slap the narrator and tell her to stop whining and do something about it already. The concept of the enforced transition from a modern lifestyle to the one the book depicts in a single lifetime is not portrayed in a believable way, and though I imagine many people will get something from it, intelligent and open-minded women may want to skip this one, because it's not saying anything you don't already know.

    13 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2001

    The Handmaid's Tale Is Not Much Of a Tale At All

    Have you ever read a book and never quite got the whole gist of it? Well if you haven¿t experienced this, you probably will after finishing The Handmaid¿s Tale. The Handmaid¿s Tale is a story with so much potential. That¿s the main thought that comes to my mind when I think of the book. Atwood set up a very interesting and unbelievable world in which women play the roles of handmaids. Handmaids¿ job is to have sex with a married man to provide his children. The government controls everything in this very disturbing, yet intriguing environment that interested me from the start, but it¿s just about the only interesting part in the whole book. The book lacks a real storyline and needs more plot and not so much filler. Over half the book consists of Offred, the main character, dreaming and thinking while she sits in her room. I can say the book was exciting when an actual event occurred, but there were only about three or four events when something worth reading happened. I guess I just don¿t enjoy reading about a lady who has a crazy past and present and confuses me with every detail. As I said earlier, the setting and idea for this book is definitely the best part, but even with a better plot and storyline that actually satisfies the reader, I still don¿t think I would want to read this book. Atwood¿s writing does not hold my interest and I found it hard to turn each page, dreading what would be thrown at me next. Symbolism played a large part in this book, but the problem was I never really figured what was symbolic for what. Obviously, the world Atwood set up with women and men playing specific roles held meaning and symbolism. I waited for the ending of the book to put everything together, and receive some closure, but my closure never arrived and I never put it together. The overall reason I wouldn¿t recommend this book to anyone is that I never arrived at a final thought for the book and nothing ever became clear, so I found no purpose in any of it. In my opinion, reading The Handmaid¿s Tale provides nothing but disappointment for the reader. What a waste of time.

    9 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2000

    A Failed Dystopia

    The logical leaps Atwood makes are mystifying. In the late twentieth century, the President and Congress are shot, so automatically, women become sex slaves whose sole purpose is procreation. A good dystopian novel will display current attitudes and beliefs, and builds on them to create a dystopian society. To accept Atwood's Gilead is to assume that feminine rights are not valued in current American society and that women continue to lose rights. In order to see The Handmaid's Tale as a sign of things to come, one would have to forget all of the advances the feminist movement has made over the past century. If I read this book as a serf in the Middle Ages, I may be scared, but as an American citizen in the year 2000, I laugh. A tragic failure in the realm of dystopian literature.

    5 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2010

    Loved the Story, Hated the Ending

    Great story that kept me wanting to read more and more. Loved it. Then it just ended. No ending really at all. No idea what happend. HATE THAT. What a cheap way to end a great story. Would never have read it if I had known.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    Not my favorite.

    I did not find this book to be entirely interesting to say the least. I did not think that a lot of the book was plausible. I also was not overly impressed with the main character development especially as this is the entire book.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    Very different book

    We read this for our bookclub. I didn't really get into it until 1/2 way through it. I thought the writing was difficult to understand and had to reread many of the parts a couple of times. It is maddening at times, sad at times, and should this ever really happen, I'm glad I wouldn't be around to see it. From a woman's perspective, it is quite maddening to see how a woman was viewed and treated in the setting of the book. They basically had no value and it definately was not living! It was sad to see how a person's heart was ripped out by the different things they had to endure through their various ordeals. It wasn't a "feel good" book whatsoever and was rather depressing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2003

    Umm, how paranoid is the world??

    In my opinion, this book wasn't all that great. It seemed entirely too paranoid about the world-or maybe I'm just an optimist. The details in the book, although fitting for the narrator, didn't give enough support for how Gilead came about. I realize that Atwood took everything in the book from things that happen in the world, but imagining them all in one place at one time is worrying a bit too much.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Started to like it but then it just got weird...

    Didn't care for this story at all. The only reason I bothered to finish it was because I'd already started a reading project on it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Ugh

    Wayyyyy too depressing, was not worth the time or money

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    This was not my first book of choice, but turned out to be an in

    This was not my first book of choice, but turned out to be an interesting twist on possible reality. The extent of realism presented in this book brings women's' rights to a perspective not thought about here in America. The reason this book appealed to me so brightly is truly coming from the symbolism that Margaret used to represent changes that could happen if our rights were stripped. Not only are women degraded in this book, but men are as well.  She represents power with men as being wrong and corrupted. The reason I gave "The Handmaids' Tale" a two star is because this book is so far fetched that it is unrelatable. Connections came few and far between which made this book less interesting. "Agenda 21" by author Glenn Beck shows more off a possible and relatable reality where rights could possible be stripped in the future due to the corruption of our government.     

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    Rambling, filled with religious hate.

    Atheists have two choices, it seems, when dealing with religion: The first is to let people live their lives and make their own decisions, the second is to mock those who believe and belittle their beliefs.

    Ms. Atwood chose the second, lower road.

    Set in present day, the book is a narrative by one of the few fertile women left in the world (most of the world is left sterile by some apocalyptic event which is never fully explained). She's forced to act as a breeder by a commander of religious forces, blah blah blah.

    There are classics because they are great. Then there are classics because liberal English majors and literary snobs say that they are. This one is squarely in the second category.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    wow... but wait

    This is a very interesting, but long winded book. Then at the end when you finally feel like you are getting somewhere *boom* stupid ending. I found myself flipping through the last few pages thinking, "No this can't be right! Where is the rest of the book!"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    A tale not worth telling.

    Strange disconnected and unfinished. This book would have made a better short story. I finished the book wanting a sense of triumph for femalehood. Instead I was left feeling as if Atwood didnt know herself what the world that she created was all about - or how to end the tale of Offred. A quick enough read but not worth the shelf space.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Don't waste your time.

    It had interesting moments.

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  • Posted October 27, 2010

    Not sure about this one...

    Read the sample. It was ok but I still don't know what she does. Have not read others by this author so it may be characteristic but I felt too much in the dark after 20 pages.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    too disturbing to warrant a re-read.

    headline says it all.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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