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It is clear that, in shaping her sequel, Atwood drew on the current Trumpian regime and the #MeToo backlash against patriarchal injustice. I liked that this book was more plot-driven by the three female narrators who recorded events in their journals (their testaments/holographs), that the elder becomes a double agent, and that the other two are young – the new generation rising up. We learn more about Gilead’s history and Canada’s response. Despite the last part seeming rather hurried, here’s a sense of hope, and a sense of the world turning on the same themes.
A satisfying follow-up for those who finished The Handmaid's Tale and weren't quite done with the story. Margaret Atwood not only explores the horrifying creation of the "Aunt" ideology, but also the infiltration of Gilead that leads to it's downfall. Morally compromised Aunt Lydia is an unexpected ally to the two teenage protagonists who fuel most of the action in this sequel.
This is not literary greatness... Far from it! At best it reads like a young adult fiction, a mild suspense novel. This is the type of sequel that adds nothing significant to the great novel that was The Handmaid's Tale. I really wonder what were Margaret Atwood's motivations when she wrote this? Anyway, be prepared for one-dimensional characters, except perhaps for Aunt Lydia. Also be prepared for a non-sensical story line. Why would someone need a human carrier to transmit secret information abroad when she already had a much safer way to do it? And why would a corrupt dictature collapse because of the revelation of said corruption to the world... I don't see this happening anywhere in the world. All in all, I was extremely disapointed. It would have been better to leave The Handmaid's Tale as a stand alone book. Much better!
I agree the book was a little hokey, and highly predictable. But for someone who likes to have a pretty bow on things, I was interested in what had become of all the characters from the original book (and of course the Hulu TV series) -- The Handmaid's Tale. Overall a quick and enjoyable read from three points of view, June's two daughters and Aunt Lydia.
Holy unnecessary sequel, Batman!! I can’t think of a gentle way to start talking about this book, so what I’ll say is this book is what might happen if someone took a hard long look at what really worked well about The Handmaid’s Tale and said “okay but what if we did the opposite of that?” A thing you should understand about this book is that it’s much less a sequel to the 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale than it is a companion novel to the Hulu adaptation show The Handmaid’s Tale, and as such has a whole bunch of corniness, confusing world-building, and hard hitting questions that no one was asking, such as “what if Aunt Lydia was good, actually?”
What I will say for the book is that Atwood remains a skilled and engaging writer, capable of making even a deeply flawed narrative feel alive.
This book has brought back my love of reading. The writing is superb, and the story is a page-turner. I read The Handmaid's Tale when it came out, saw the movie, and am now watching the series on TV starring Elizabeth Moss. The Testaments carries forward the stories of Offred's two daughters and Aunt Lydia. My only tiny criticism is that Gilead is described as a "Puritan theocracy." In fact, the Puritans in America created a more just society among people of European ancestry than the European society they'd left behind. That's not saying much by today's standards, but still. The subject of the Puritan treatment of Indigenous People is another subject, and a tragic one.
I really enjoyed returning to the world of Handmaid's Tale. It's interesting to see how much has changed in our world that makes the world of Gilead seem even more sinister and plausible than it did when Handmaid's Tale was first published.
This book was okay, I like the way Margaret Atwood writes. However, it was confusing to me. I had to keep going back in the book to understand what I was currently reading. Also, it didn't open my eyes in any way and honestly, I couldn't wait until it was over. Having read The Handmaid's Tale, I was hoping it would be a continuation of that story about Offred. She was mentioned briefly but it wasn't much.
I have not read "The Handmaid's Tale," but understand from others that it was a close-up view of how the theocracy played out in people's lives; this sequel certainly portrays the horror of life in Gilead but the three separate story lines make it less claustrophobic. Each subplot is incredibly engaging and makes for a wonderful page-turner. Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.
In Testaments, Atwood presumes to offer her fans a look into the fall of Gilead. As an idea, it was formulaic, unsurprising, and methodical. It doesn't mean it wasn't bad. It's still a decent story but one might expect more from the author. I believe the legacy of Handmaid's Tale would have been preserved had that story been it. The end was mystery that we could interpret and imagine however we wished to. Testaments eliminated that perfect mystery.
I was very impressed by the Handmaid"s Tale, however this felt like it fell short. While interesting and still a good book, it just does not compare to Margaret Atwood's others. It felt stereotypical, not the breathtaking originality that she is known for and I was able to guess most of the major plot points. Still well-written, but not on the same level as Handmaid's Tale or Alias Grace. I would absolutely still recommend giving it a read, because the subject matter and expansion of the original story is very interesting, but don't expect it to be life changing.
A brilliant sequel to a wonderful and important book. Atwood expands the world she created in The Handmaid's Tale and introduces so many well-formed and interesting characters. She also deepens some of the ones from her first tome. This is a MUST read if you've read the original.
Really liked Testaments... read it in a weekend.
Especially pleased that Margaret tied it so well TO Handmaid’s Tale, because it’s been years since I’ve read it.
Was worried I’d have troubled connecting it but did not.
A very satisfying sequel to The Handmaids Tale. Suspenseful, great character development and Atwood's signature dry humour. Loved it.
Margaret Atwood's storytelling is as spellbinding as ever. This book is a hard-to-put-down, extremely satisfying conclusion/continuation to the story told in The Handmaid's Tale. Highly recommended.
I'm generally not an Atwood fan but I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit, and I don't think I ever read A Handmaid's Tale. The plot moved along well.
The long-awaited sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”, this book takes place 15 years after the events of the first book. While this book is a thrilling page-turner, it lacks the beautifully written prose and political criticism that made the original book a modern-day classic. “The Testaments” is an action-driven, more hopeful, and by extension, a less realistic narrative. Nonetheless, fans of the books and tv adaptation will appreciate a deeper look into the Gilead mythos.
Read Cat's Eye (novel), Bluebeard's Egg or Wilderness Tips (short story collections) or Morning in the Burning House (poetry) if you want to read excellent Atwood. Atwood can be uneven and the writing here is so poor that on just one page there are two cliches (e.g. the proof is in the pudding) unbelievably spoken by Aunt Lydia (who pre-Gilead had been a judge.) There are no Handmaids in the plot; no Fascistic, militant Commanders (only a couple of weak pedophiles); no jealous, controlling wives (just young innocent girl brides). Aunt Lydia is not cruel and sadistic. She is an administrator and protector of postulants. The plot does not center on inhumane ideology. When I got to the ridiculous turning point which was to unravel Gilead, I had to force myself to finish the book. I own all of Atwood's books and am an admirer, but The Testaments is probably not the book you are looking for if you were riveted and horrified by The Handmaid's Tale.
For everyone who has been dying to find out what happened after "The Handmaid's Tale"...including how the Republic of Gilead became history.
Looked forward to this too much. Of course it's well written technically because it's Atwood but for me it was - as we kids used to say on Guy Fawkes - a damp squib.
Well written and builds on the TV series. I will definitely need to re-read the Handmaid's Tale, which I haven't read since high school. But am I the only one who occasionally had difficulty tracking which of the three characters I was reading?
I thought The Handmaid's Tale was very well written, and was looking forward to seeing what the sequel will hold. I was unfortunately very disappointed. I would never have guessed this was written by Margaret Atwood if I had read it without being told who the author was; most of the book reads like a mediocre, angsty YA novel, and the plot twists were predictable. By the end I didn't care at all about any of the characters. The only thing that saved this from being one star for me is that the Aunt Lydia narrative is somewhat better written than the other two narratives.
Although well-written and interesting to read, it is not a good stand- alone novel. You really need to read her first novel to fully enjoy. The premise, that is, men are the bad guys and have created a world where a woman's main job and duty is to bear children for the next generation. This stretches the suspension of disbelief for me because women are 50% of the population plus there are plenty of normal men out there who would oppose the subjugation of women in this manner. Intended to be feminist literature, it fails to be believable and it fails to demonize men. Thus, 3.5 stars.
Great addition into the world of Handmaids Tale. It nicely wrapped up the First book and show. My only concern is how it will impact the show.