Genre: Dystopia, Feminism
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Check out my review of The Handmaid’s Tale HERE!
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.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story 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
“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you”
The Testaments differs greatly from The Handmaid’s Tale in that it’s more action packed, if you will. The Testaments focuses less on the inner workings of the individuals and more on the world and Gilead as a whole.
The biggest difference between the two novels is the agency and actions of the characters. While The Handmaid’s Tale gives readers a character who holds up a mirror daring readers to say otherwise that they would act differently, The Testaments gives readers characters who are ready to overthrow the whole system, their lives be damned. This creates a more fun and exciting novel; however, you lose the introspection and everyday person relatability the first novel so clearly and effectively employs.
The Testaments tells the story of three women from Gilead. These testaments give readers an in-depth look at Gilead and its inner workings. If you are a fan of the novel and television show, you will quickly deduce the identities of the narrators.
It’s hard not to spoil anything while writing this review, so from now on there will be mild spoilers .
What I enjoyed most about one of the narrators was seeing Gilead from the outside. People going about their everyday lives while the horrors of Gilead are inflicted on countless women. I suppose it is so not different from the real life horrors that are happening elsewhere in the world while we go about our everyday lives, but after having experienced The Handmaid’s Tale novel and television show they make it less abstract, in a sense.
SPOILER! Highlight below.
I was also surprised to see Aunt Lydia’s portrayal in The Testaments as compared to the television show. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Aunt Lydia is very much in the background. She was given much more relevance in the television show. It was hard at time to reconcile the two different portrayals while reading The Testaments. I enjoyed being in her head and watching her political machinations as she struggled with the choice between what is right and what is easy.
The Testaments in no way concludes these characters’ journey and Gilead itself. There are moments that set up future problems that will arise. In my opinion, these do not need to be explored further. Rather, they add depth and a level of realness to post-Gilead life.
Overall, The Testaments is an excellent sequel that builds upon its predecessor while giving readers something more. My enjoyment of the novel was heightened by listening to Atwood speak about the novel and her intensions with it before I finished it completely. One of the anecdotes that she offered that resonated with me the most was her inability to recreate Offred’s voice, which is why The Testaments is told from three different perspectives.