The Testaments – Margaret Atwood
- Published: September 10 2019
- Pages: 422
- Format: Library Copy (Hardcover)
- Tags: Fiction, Science Fiction (Dystopia), Feminism, Future, Multiple POV, Mothers & Daughters, Sisters
| Synopsis From the Publisher |
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
“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.” –Margaret Atwood
| Book Review |
– Content –
A return to Gilead, but with new glimpses -> One of the things about this book that gives it, for me, a worthiness, is that we see more of Gilead and its inner workings than we got to in A Handmaid’s Tale. For one thing, we see things from Aunt Lydia’s view, which is a view of one of the highest levels in the hierarchy of Gilead. We also get to see a bit more of how Gilead came to be, seeing Aunt Lydia being made into who she is within the Gilead system from what she was before, which is quite nice to see. I enjoyed getting to see a bit more of how Gilead functions and this definitely makes this book a worthwhile read for any fan of A Handmaid’s Tale.
Multiple POV! -> This book operates on a very different level from A Handmaid’s Tale, particularly since we get three different perspectives. In this way, views of Gilead from within and without are possible, and more of the worldview is in place, which really satisfies curiosities that might have been born from reading A Handmaid’s Tale. Normally I don’t enjoy multiple POVs, but in this case, Atwood uses it to great effect and I enjoyed the different viewpoints and voices heard.
Female power! -> I think it goes without saying that Atwood really doubles down on the feminist perspective with this book, which doesn’t bother me in the least. I don’t care if it’s very obvious, I think it works in this book’s favor. I can tell that this book fits nicely into our current society’s talking points about women’s rights and I enjoyed making the connections to current events and the future events of this book. I’m already a feminist, so this lens didn’t bother me, but maybe it might annoy some readers, I don’t know.
A definitive ending -> After reading this book, I feel that Atwood has definitely answered all the questions she felt she needed to about this world. This book gives some pretty good closure for Gilead and that was one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. I was really on the fence about this book, since I love A Handmaid’s Tale so much and didn’t feel like there needed to be anything added. This book managed to win me over and it also satisfied any curiosities I had and the ending feels right to me. It’s a very satisfying ending to this story.
– Literary Value-
Nicely paced plot -> One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the pacing. I’m not usually a quick reader, but I got through this book pretty quickly because I think Atwood did such an excellent job with pacing. There were no slow bits and there was a nice bit of tension towards the end that pushed you through the final “conflict.” After each chapter, I just kept reading, rather than feeling the need to put the book down, so I definitely liked this aspect of the book.
Multiple POV that I can get behind! -> I talked about the multiple points of view earlier, but I feel the need to mention it again here under literary value because I think Atwood used these points of view to great effect. I could see a very real point to them besides keeping track of different elements of the plot. In this case, you get different levels of hierarchy, you get different ages, and you get three different areas in this world to look at, one of them outside of Gilead. It’s a great tool that’s used extremely well in this book.
Good character development -> I liked all of the characters in this story. I think Atwood is a master of character development and I enjoyed seeing how she peeled back each of the layers of these characters throughout the book. I particularly liked seeing Aunt Lydia’s trajectory of development the most. It was one of my favorite parts of the book.
– Entertainment Factor –
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think I can put it down to the characters, the pacing, and Atwood’s writing specifically. But really, this book was just a lot fun to read. The subject matter is very serious, of course, but I found myself looking forward to reading it and finishing the book rather quickly, for me. I liked all of the main characters, which is a big help, and I found the plot to be interesting and even though I could guess where it was headed, I still liked the ending and found it to be very satisfying. So definitely high marks for this book.
– Cover Art –
Now I finally have a place to talk about how much I hate this cover. I really, really do. I don’t like it at all. I don’t like the shade of green and I really don’t like it paired with that color blue. I don’t like the silhouette woman with the weird stretched out arms embedded in the larger handmaid woman. It’s just a really ugly, tacky cover to me and I’m not saying that it’s the reason why I don’t want to give this book full marks, but it’s definitely a small reason why. If I weren’t a fan of A Handmaid’s Tale, and I was just randomly shopping, I would not be attracted to this book.
| My Rating |
Definitely Worth the Read
I was not prepared to like this book as much as I do. I am very satisfied with A Handmaid’s Tale as it is and never felt the need for a follow up book, so in a way I resented this book a bit before I finally received my library’s copy to read. But once I began reading it, my opinion changed pretty quickly.
Not only is the story really compelling, each of the characters are, as well. I found myself really enjoying the multiple perspectives and getting to know different levels of Gilead as well as the world outside of it. I also really liked the pacing of this book. It didn’t get too slow or too muddled. It was a very easy book to read and so I finished it quickly quickly. I found the ending to be satisfying and it seems to sum up things nicely for this series. It’s definitely not what I expected and I’m glad that I read it.
Would I recommend this book?
I definitely would. This is a really great sequel to A Handmaid’s Tale and a really well-written book. I liked the feminist undertones and I like the three main characters. I feel each of them has a unique perspective to add to this dystopian world that Atwood has created.
Thoughts & Thanks
Thank you so much for reading this post. I would love to hear your thoughts on this book if you have read it or even if you haven’t! If you’re considering reading it, let me know what you think, once you do!