The Heart Goes Last

The Heart Goes Last

by Margaret Atwood

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Overview

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a 'social experiment' offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their 'Alternates,' the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385540353
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/29/2015
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and her most recent, MaddAddam.She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator's Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.


Hometown:

Toronto, Ontario

Date of Birth:

November 18, 1939

Place of Birth:

Ottawa, Ontario

Education:

B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967

Read an Excerpt

CRAMPED

Sleeping in the car is cramped. Being a third-hand Honda, it’s no palace to begin with. If it was a van they’d have more room, but fat chance of affording one of those, even back when they thought they had money. Stan says they’re lucky to have any kind of a car at all, which is true, but their luckiness doesn’t make the car any bigger.

Charmaine feels that Stan ought to sleep in the back because he needs more space—it would only be fair, he’s larger—but he has to be in the front in order to drive them away fast in an emergency. He doesn’t trust Charmaine’s ability to function under those circumstances: he says she’d be too busy screaming to drive. So Charmaine can have the more spacious back, though even so she has to curl up like a snail because she can’t exactly stretch out.

They keep the windows mostly closed because of the mosquitoes and the gangs and the solitary vandals. The solitaries don’t usually have guns or knives—if they have those kinds of weapons you have to get out of there triple fast—but they’re more likely to be bat-shit crazy, and a crazy person with a piece of metal or a rock or even a high-heeled shoe can do a lot of damage. They’ll think you’re a demon or the undead or a vampire whore, and no kind of reasonable thing you might do to calm them down will cancel out that opinion. The best thing with crazy people, Grandma Win used to say—the only thing, really—is to be somewhere else.

With the windows shut except for a crack at the top, the air gets dead and supersaturated with their own smells. There aren’t many places where they can grab a shower or wash their clothes, and that makes Stan irritable. It makes Charmaine irritable too, but she tries her best to stamp on that feeling and look on the bright side, because what’s the use of complaining?

What’s the use of anything? she often thinks. But what’s the use of even thinking What’s the use? So instead she says, “Honey, let’s just cheer up!”

“Why?” Stan might say. “Give me one good fucking reason to cheer the fuck up.” Or he might say, “Honey, just shut it!” mimicking her light, positive tone, which is mean of him. He can lean to the mean when he’s irritated, but he’s a good man underneath. Most people are good underneath if they have a chance to show their goodness: Charmaine is determined to keep on believing that. A shower is a help for the showing of the goodness in a person, because, as Grandma Win was in the habit of saying, Cleanliness is next to godliness and godliness means goodliness.

That was among the other things she might say, such as Your mother didn’t kill herself, that was just talk. Your daddy did the best he could but he had a lot to put up with and it got too much. You should try hard to forget those other things, because a man’s not accountable when he’s had too much to drink. And then she would say, Let’s make popcorn!

And they would make the popcorn, and Grandma Win would say, Don’t look out the window, sugar pie, you don’t want to see what they’re doing out there. It isn’t nice. They yell because they want to. It’s self-expression. Sit here by me. It all worked out for the best, because look, here you are and we’re happy and safe now!

That didn’t last, though. The happiness. The safeness. The now.



WHERE?

Stan twists in the front seat, trying to get comfortable. Not much fucking chance of that. So what can he do? Where can they turn? There’s no safe place, there are no instructions. It’s like he’s being blown by a vicious but mindless wind, aimlessly round and round in circles. No way out.

He feels so lonely, and sometimes having Charmaine with him makes him feel lonelier. He’s let her down.

He has a brother, true, but that would be a last resort. He and Conor had followed different paths, was the polite way of saying it. A drunken midnight fight, with dickheads and douchebags and shit-for-brains freely exchanged, would be the impolite way of saying it, and it was in fact the way Conor had chosen during their last encounter. To be accurate, Stan had chosen that way too, though he’d never had as foul a mouth as Con.

In Stan’s view—his view at that time—Conor was next door to a criminal. But in Con’s view Stan was a dupe of the system, an ass-kisser, a farce, and a coward. Balls of a tadpole.

Where’s slippery Conor now, what’s he doing? At least he won’t have lost his job in the big financial-crash business-wrecking meltdown that turned this part of the country into a rust bucket: you can’t lose your job if you don’t have one. Unlike Stan, he hasn’t been expelled, cast out, condemned to a life of frantic, grit-in-the-eyes, rancid-armpit wandering. Con always lived off what he could mooch or filch from others, ever since he was a kid. Stan hasn’t forgotten his Swiss Army knife that he’d saved up for, his Transformer, his Nerf gun with the foam bullets: magical disappearances all, with Con’s younger-brother head going shake shake shake from side to side, no way, who, me?

Stan wakes at night thinking for a moment that he’s home in bed, or at least in a bed of some sort. He reaches for Charmaine, but she isn’t there beside him and he finds himself inside the stinking car, needing a piss but afraid to unlock the door because of the voices yammering toward him and the footsteps crunching on gravel or thudding on asphalt, and maybe a fist thumping on the roof and a scarred, partly toothed face grinning in the window: Lookit what we got! Cockfodder! Let’s open ’er up! Gimme the crowbar!

And then Charmaine’s terrified little whisper: “Stan! Stan! We need to go! We need to go right now!” As if he couldn’t figure that out for himself. He keeps the key in the ignition, always. Rev of motor, screech of tires, yelling and jeering, pounding of heart, and then what? More of the same in some other parking lot or sidestreet, somewhere else. It would be nice if he had a machine gun: nothing any smaller would even come close. As it is, his only weapon is flight.

He feels pursued by bad luck, as if bad luck is a feral dog, lurking along behind him, following his scent, lying in wait around corners. Peering out from under bushes to fix him with its evil yellow eye. Maybe what he needs is a witch doctor, some serious voodoo. Plus a couple of hundred bucks so they could spend a night in a motel, with Charmaine beside him instead of out of reach in the back seat. That would be the bare minimum: to wish for any more would be pushing it.

Charmaine’s commiseration makes it worse. She tries so hard. “You are not a failure,” she says. “Just because we lost the house and we’re sleeping in the car, and you got . . .” She doesn’t want to say fired. “And you haven’t given up, at least you’re looking for a job. Those things like losing the house, and, and . . . those things have happened to a lot of people. To most people.”

“But not to everyone,” Stan would say. “Not to fucking everyone.”

Not to rich people.

—-

They’d started out so well. They both had jobs then. Charmaine was in the Ruby Slippers Retirement Homes and Clinics chain, doing entertainment and events—she had a special touch with the elderly, said the supervisors—and she was working her way up. He was doing well too: junior quality control at Dimple Robotics, testing the Empathy Module in the automated Customer Fulfillment models. People didn’t just want their groceries bagged, he used to explain to Charmaine: they wanted a total shopping experience, and that included a smile. Smiles were hard; they could turn into grimaces or leers, but if you got a smile right, they’d spend extra for it. Amazing to remember, now, what people would once spend extra for.

They’d had a small wedding—just friends, since there wasn’t much family left on either side, their parents being dead one way or another. Charmaine said she wouldn’t have invited hers anyway, though she didn’t elaborate because she didn’t like to talk about them, but she wished her Grandma Win could have been there. Who knew where Conor was? Stan didn’t look for him, because if he turned up he would probably have tried to grope Charmaine or do some other attention-grabbing stunt.

Then they had a beach honeymoon in Georgia. That was a high point. There are the two of them in the photos, golden and smiling, sunlight all over them like mist, raising their glasses of—what had that been, some tropical cocktail heavy on the lime cordial—raising their glasses to their new life. Charmaine in a retro flower-patterned halter top with a sarong skirt and a hibiscus blossom tucked behind her ear, her blond hair shining, ruffled by the breeze, him in a green shirt with penguins on it that Charmaine had picked out for him, and a panama; well, not a real panama, but that idea. They look so young, so untouched. So eager for the future.

Stan sent one of those photos to Conor to show that there was, finally, a girl of Stan’s that Con couldn’t poach; also as an example of the success Con himself might expect to have if he’d settle down, go straight, stop doing minor time, quit fooling around on the fringes. It’s not that Con wasn’t smart: he was too smart. Always playing the angles.

Con sent a message back: Nice T&A, big brother. Can she cook? Dumb penguins though. Typical: Con had to sneer, he had to disparage. That was before he’d cut the lines, dumped his email, refused to share his address.

—-

Back up north, they’d made a down payment on a house, a starter two-bedroom in need of a little love but with room for the growing family, said the agent with a wink. It seemed affordable, but in retrospect the decision to buy was a mistake—there were the renovations and repairs, and that meant extra debt on top of the mortgage. They told themselves they could handle it: they weren’t big spenders, they worked hard. That’s the killer: the hard work. He’d busted his ass. He might as well not have bothered, in view of the fuck-all he’s been left with. It makes him cross-eyed to remember how hard he’d worked.

Then everything went to ratshit. Overnight, it felt like. Not just in his own personal life: the whole card castle, the whole system fell to pieces, trillions of dollars wiped off the balance sheets like fog off a window. There were hordes of two-bit experts on TV pretending to explain why it had happened—demographics, loss of confidence, gigantic Ponzi schemes—but that was all guesswork bullshit. Someone had lied, someone had cheated, someone had shorted the market, someone had inflated the currency. Not enough jobs, too many people. Or not enough jobs for middle-of-the-road people like Stan and Charmaine. The northeast, which was where they were, was the hardest hit.

The Ruby Slippers branch where Charmaine worked ran into trouble: it was upscale, so a lot of families could no longer afford to park their old folks in there. Rooms emptied, overheads were cut. Charmaine applied for a transfer—the chain was still doing well on the West Coast—but that didn’t happen, and she was made redundant. Then Dimple Robotics packed up and moved west, and Stan was out without a parachute.

They sat in their newly bought home on their newly bought sofa with the flowered throw pillows that Charmaine had taken such trouble to match, and hugged each other, and said they loved each other, and Charmaine cried, and Stan patted her and felt useless.

Charmaine got a temporary job waiting tables; when that place went belly up, she got another one. Then another, in a bar. Not high-end places; those were drying up, because anyone who could afford to eat fancy food was gobbling it farther west, or else in exotic countries where the concept of minimum wage had never existed.

No such luck for Stan, with the odd jobs: overqualified, was what they told him at the employment office. He said he wasn’t picky—he’d clean floors, he’d mow lawns—and they smirked (what floors? what lawns?), and said they’d keep him on file. But then the employment office itself closed down, because why keep it open if there was no employment?

—-

They held on in their little house, living on fast food and the money from selling the furniture, skimping on energy use and sitting in the dark, hoping things would take an upturn. Finally they put the house on the market, but by then there were no buyers; the houses on either side of theirs were already empty, and the looters had been through them, ripping out anything that could be sold. One day they had no mortgage money left, and their credit cards were frozen. They walked out before they were thrown out, and drove away before the creditors could grab their car.

Luckily Charmaine had saved up a little stash of cash. That, and her tiny pay packet at the bar, plus tips—those have kept them in gas, and a post-office box so they can pretend to have an address if anything does come up for Stan, and the odd trip to the laundromat when they can’t stand the griminess of their clothes.

Stan has sold his blood twice, though he didn’t get much for it. “You wouldn’t believe it,” the woman said to him as she handed him a paper cup of fake juice after his second blood drain, “but some people have asked us if we want to buy their babies’ blood, can you imagine?”

“No shit,” says Stan. “Why? Babies don’t have that much blood.”

More valuable, was her answer. She said there was a news item that claimed a total blood renewal, young blood for old, staves off dementia and rolls your physical clock back twenty, thirty years. “It’s only been tried with mice,” she said. “Mice aren’t people! But some folks will clutch at anything. We’ve turned away at least a dozen baby-blood offers. We tell them we can’t accept it.”

Someone’s accepting it, Stan thought. You can bet they are. If there’s money in it.

—-

If only the two of them could find some place where the prospects are better. There’s said to be a boom in Oregon—fuelled by a rare earth discovery, China’s buying a lot of that—but how can they get out there? They’d no longer have Charmaine’s trickle of money coming in, they’d run out of gas. They could ditch the car, try hitching, but Charmaine is terrified by the thought. Their car is the only barrier between them and gang rape, and not just for her, she says, considering what’s out there roaming around in the night with no pants on. She has a point.

What should he do to pull them out of this ditch? Whatever he has to. There used to be a lot of jobs licking ass in the corporate world, but those asses are now out of reach. Banking’s left the region, manufacturing too; the digital genius outfits have migrated to fatter pastures in other, more prosperous locations and nations. Service industries used to be held out as a promise of salvation, but those jobs too are scarce, at least around here. One of Stan’s uncles, dead now, had been a chef, back when cheffing was a good gig because the top slice was still living onshore and high-end restaurants were glamorous. But not today, when those kinds of customers are floating around on tax-free sea platforms just outside the offshore limit. People that rich take their own chefs with them.

—-

Another midnight, another parking lot. It’s the third one tonight; they’ve had to flee the previous two. Now they’re so on edge they can’t get back to sleep.

"Maybe we should try the slots," says Charmaine. They’d done that once, and come out ten dollars to the good. It wasn’t much, but at least they hadn’t lost it all.

"No way," says Stan. "We can’t afford the risk, we need the money for gas."

"Have some gum, honey," says Charmaine. "Relax a little. Go to sleep. Your brain’s too active."

"What fucking brain?" says Stan. There’s a hurt silence: he shouldn’t take it out on her. Dickhead, he tells himself. None of this is her fault.

Tomorrow he’ll eat his pride. He’ll hunt down Conor, help him out with whatever scam he’s engaged in, join the criminal underclass. He has an idea about where to start looking. Or maybe he’ll just hit Con up for a loan, supposing Con is flush. That shoe used to be on the other foot – it was Conor who’d done the hitting up when they were younger, and before Conor had figured out how to game the system – but he’ll need to avoid reminding Conor of their former positions now.

Or maybe he should remind him. Con owes him. He could say Payback time or something. Not that he’s got any leverage. But still, Con’s his brother. And he is Con’s brother. Which must be worth something.

Reading Group Guide

1. If you were in Stan and Charmaine's situation, would you sign up for the Positron Project?

2. What is the significance of Charmaine's memories of Grandma Win and her cheerful aphorisms?

3. Do you think society could actually break down to the point that it does in the novel? Why or why not?

4. Bright colors figure into many descriptions in the novel, and act as a counterpoint to the drab quality of daily life in Positron. Stan and Charmaine's lockers are pink and green; the Alternates' lockers are purple and red; prison uniforms are orange; the knitted bears are blue. Do you think the colors assigned to the various objects are intentional or incidental?

5. How did your attitudes toward Stan and Charmaine change over the course of the novel?

6. The novel's title has surprising significance. When it was revealed, did you find it a clever twist or macabre and disturbing?

7. Charmaine is placed in an impossible situation when she discovers Stan on the gurney. Did she make the right choice? What would you have done?

8. No one is who he or she seems to be in Consilience. Did the shifting identities of characters make you wonder what their previous lives had been like before they came to Consilience? Would they have been better off "outside the walls"?

9. Could the Positron Project ever be a viable solution to solving societal upheaval?

10. The author is known for embracing emerging technologies, but in this work medical science and robotics are used in sinister and manipulative ways. In this sense is The Heart Goes Last a cautionary tale?

11. "The world is all before you," says Jocelyn at the close of the novel. How do you think Charmaine will adjust to freedom?

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The Heart Goes Last 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by Margaret Atwood, yes I know where have I been? It's not because I was trying not to. I just hadn't had the chance so far. I will say that this one was definitely a different kind of book. Not sure if this is an usual kind for her or not. But, in the whole realm of reading, it was a different kind of reading. I very much enjoyed reading the book and it definitely kept me interested. There were some definitely far out things going on in this story. I never did understand why they lived in regular housing for one month and then a prison cell for another month and then start the trend all over again. That was kind of strange. However, I guess it kept life from becoming monotonous. Also, I'm not sure I would like to share my house every other month with someone else either. But, it sure beat living in a car. I couldn't imagine that. There were some pretty creepy characters in this story. Some of them felt almost too robotic as if they felt no emotion or had no feelings. But the main characters felt and acted human. There was some mention of sex in here, but it wasn't that bad and it was referred to several times, but it wasn't like in the romance books or anything so I don't think it would be enough to put people off. I thought that while the story was strange, it was very enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it especially if your into dystopian novels. Thanks Doubleday Books and Net Galley for providing me with this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 3 days ago
One of the most ridiculous stories i have ever read, what a waste of time!
Sandy5 5 months ago
They lost almost everything when the economy went belly up and now they lived in their car. Stan was getting tired of the situation while Charmaine tried to remain positive although her new working conditions at the Pixel Dust bar, were less than ideal. When Charmaine saw the commercial for the Positron Project, she knew this was their way out. The Positron Project was a serious commitment and as the couple was put through a screening process and a waiting period, Stan’s brother tried to warn him about the dangers in his future. Charmaine already had made up her mind though. The project. Who thinks of these things? As I read about this idea, I had to wonder about this author and how she came up with this idea. Then, I thought about the individuals who had signed up for this type of society, freely without any pressure. Life on the outside must have been pretty miserable for them. Did they really know what lies ahead for their future? The project runs on a monthly cycle. One month an individual or a couple would live in a house and they would be treated as civilians. At the end of the month, they would go to their lockers and change their clothes. Putting on their prisoner apparel, they would now become prisoners for a month and live in another section of the project. This same exchange would occur with individuals who were prisoners last month, only they would now be putting on civilian clothes and they now would be living in the houses that the civilians just left. It’s an exchange program. The same people live in the same house only in different times, cleaning up after themselves before they leave. These individuals are to never, ever see who they share their houses with. If you think about the tone within the project, things have to be running pretty smoothly. As a resident, you experience both ends of the spectrum. For Charmaine and Stan, they were enjoying the project. Life seemed easier, they both had jobs and knew what was expected of them but of course, they hit a bump as Stan makes a discovery. The novel got pretty interesting then as it was one twist after another until I wasn’t sure what the heck was happening. There’s this master plan, I know there had to be, but who was in charge and what was the purpose? I felt like an investigator, leaping around, keeping track of all the dirt I was uncovering. By the time the whole plan was ironed out, I was shaking my head. I felt like I had been bounced around in a pinball machine during that second half of the novel. That was crazy. I liked parts of it as I felt it was very creative and interesting and there were other parts that I thought were confusing and rushed. It is after I have finished this novel that I am told that this is part of a series, I don’t know if I will read the others in the series. I’ll need to read the synopsis but I think I should have read the first book to help me understand this book better.
Anonymous 8 months ago
So many hidden meanings and references to which we can all relate in this very entertaining page-turner! I highly recommend this one with a touch of nostalgia and the future, humor and fear... Read it and you put yourself into their world!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Atwood you dirty girl! You gave us a strange futuristic work that encompassed the dark, the demented and the full fledged belly laugh in this one! At first I didn't see the unique edge usually hooking the reader, but after about 80-90 pages I couldn't put it down. Thanks for my Thanksgiving desert this year! haha. This one was like a nice slice of pumpkin pie ~ but the whipped cream was so nice to lick off my fingers! Marianne C in WV
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
It’s not really a prison, more of a social contract; you live in the community half the time, and the other half someone else has your home while you serve the community. Commitment, obedience, trust in authority—all of these will be fostered in prison time and all will be well. Plus everyone’s signed the contract, so they have to agree. Of course, like any “perfect” form of government, the system might fall prey to temptation or corruption. In that gap between town-time and prison-time, what if you meet someone from the opposite schedule? What if your wife meets someone? What if…? And what if somewhere along the line you start wondering about the world outside, that fast-decaying world you left behind? Margaret Atwood peoples her near-future cities and governments with convincing characters and logical motivations. It’s fascinating, oddly compelling… and suddenly it’s terrifying too in a novel whose second half becomes an exciting ride through technology, mystery and emotion. The reader is invited to wonder what makes us human, what makes emotions real, what constitutes deception, and do we really want to be responsible for our actions. The Heart Goes Last offers insight into the human heart and questions how easily we might be deceived. It’s also a really good, if somewhat dystopian, read. Disclosure: I bought it to read on a plane and I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spikeopolis More than 1 year ago
I'm an Atwood fan since Handmaid's Tale first hit paperback. Something's different this time around. Maybe a palate cleanser after 15 years of Madaddam? It's got all the humor, insight, humanity, sexual politics and masterful language you've come to expect, as well as a classically ambiguous Atwood ending. But her typically immersive world-building is a bit slight and the plot is, frankly, goofy. I'm a big re-reader. I've read Madaddam 4 or 5 times, and Handmaid? Too many to count. But this one will probably stay on the shelf. Still a huge fan, though!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly the worst book I have read in years. I barely giving it a star other than the story starts out relatively interesting and then seemingly becomes nothing more than absurd sex-based dribble. I want my money back....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking . Scary. Hilarious . Absurd ---maybe not ! ? ! ? Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Timely and thought provoking novel reminiscent of "The Handmaid's Tale". Could not put it down!
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
I would like to thank Doubleday Books & NetGalley for granting me a copy of this e-book to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Teaser: "Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over." Margaret Atwood delivers another novel of deep interest and entertainment, which will leave the reader contemplating so many things long after they've put the book down. Stan and Charmaine are you're typical middle-class Americans. At least they used to be until everything fell apart. Watching how they each dealt with the daily pressure of finding themselves adrift in a world they no longer recognize is almost like staring into a mirror out of the corner of your eye. You can imagine yourself in their shoes and wonder how you'd be reacting to their situation. I found Charmaine to be a slightly annoying ninny. She's constantly quoting her grandmother, and the quotes are all just ridiculous platitudes. She avoids anything dark or depressing, shoving all her bad memories into a place she never ventures. Her perpetually upbeat attitude in the face of extreme uncertainty annoyed me, and left me wondering about her husband Stan since he signed on for a life with this ray of blinding sunshine. Yet Stan was a more relatable character for me. He is more upfront and honest about his thoughts and feelings, even if only to himself. Yet sometimes he overloads and does lash out, which makes sense in the story and helped make him feel more realistic than Charmaine to me. The pacing and arc of the story was smooth, attesting to Atwood's innate storytelling skills. While this book isn't as clearly dystopian as some of her other stories, it's heading that way, which makes it all the more frightening because what she created feels far to close to real for me. The messed up world she envisioned feels as if it's only a few steps away from where we stand now, and there are so many people ready to step in and create their own personal playground out of the entire world. Although this tale reads as fiction, it certainly touches on highly charged current events, bringing things to light that engenders serious thought. Despite the fictional aspect of the story this is in many ways a very thought provoking novel, and one that will linger in my mind for some time to come. But then that has always been the case with books by the eminently talented Margaret Atwood.
MadelineEM More than 1 year ago
{I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.} It's not very often you run across a dystopian novel where only a portion of the population is affected by a catastrophic event. How about one where a financial crisis forced a large portion of the population, but not everyone, out of work? They cannot find work and are forced to spend their days and nights on the streets, evading roaming gangs. It's no surprise that these folks are looking for an escape. A mysterious social project where they agree to go in and never come out is a promising option. That's the premise of The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (her most famous work is The Handmaid's Tale). This premise was so promising that I could not wait to see where it ended up. Sadly, I barely made it to the end of this novel and skimmed the last 20 percent. Let me explain. Here are things I do not like in novels that were prominently featured in The Heart Goes Last: -Twisted, vengeful, rage-filled sex as a main theme. -Tiresome obsessive behavior that goes on for pages and pages and pages. -Innumerable references to sex with animals and inanimate objects that features into major plot points. -Little to no redeeming qualities in characters who I want to like, but just can't bring myself to like. -A serial adapted into a novel that has the feeling of a serial, not a novel. So, yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Unfortunately, no matter how talented Atwood is as a writer, the subject matter was simply not for me. Find more reviews at www.plantohappy.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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