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Book Reviews of The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
ISBN-13: 9780449212608
ISBN-10: 0449212602
Publication Date: 12/12/1986
Pages: 395
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 693

4 stars, based on 693 ratings
Publisher: Fawcett
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

83 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

jeffp avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 201 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
An excellent and disturbing near future story. In the Republic of Gilead - which is what appeared after the US was violently overthrown - women are property, with few rights, and no control over their own destinies or bodies. We meet Offred - a handmaid to her Commander - and learn some of her past, as well as some of the history that brought the Republic into power.

Full of disturbing imagery, this is a powerful story that will make you think. Highly recommended.
kww avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
This book is amazing, intelligent and thought-provoking. It's my first exposure to Margaret Atwood and, on the strength of this one, I'll be reading her other books.

A cautionary tale, told through simple fiction, it more than deserves all the attention it garnered. A must read!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
I truly fascinating book about what happens when separation of Church and State collapse and a small but powerful group with very strong beliefs forces one and all to submit. The writing is very strong, with artful, and compelling use of suspense and characters. Once you start, it's a pageturner from start to finish.
CocoCee avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 404 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
A very disturbing vision of the future. Though written twenty years ago, the topics seem modern: mix of church and state - pro life/choice - women's rights - protection of the earth and environment - religious freedoms. Great book for a reading group. Wonderful character and environment development. Very quick read, but the story won't leave you as quickly.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This is a great book and one that should be read by more people, not only women. There are some scary parallels in the novel to things that have happened in the last few years. The dominionists in this country who'd like to see America become a theocracy are not that far away from the ruling party in this book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Isabel-Batteria avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 70 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
A very gripping story, well written and with many beautiful images. It stalls very little at the beginning, but the second half is much more dynamic and enjoyable.

I like the author's prose. Atwood invents an almost seamless extreme futuristic world. It's tense all over. Still, I didn't like the fact that such a perfectly, deep-rooted theocracy can only been in power for three years. I found it unlikely that people would be so brain-washed in such a short period of time, even though Atwood is careful to establish that some small changes were taking place little by little.
Bootsie avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Thought-provoking, as are all of Atwoods books. Illustrates the misery brought on by an excess of religion mixed with politics. Let this be a warning to those who would use power in the name of religion to "free" us from the world's evils.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 91 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This is a very interesting book! It shows where a society might go when people don't take an interst in where a goverment is going. I liked the parts where Offred thinks about her former life. It sounds strangely like the lives we live today. Food for thought.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Fascinating tale of a near-future society where democracy and women's rights are null and void. Offred is a Handmaid - a fertile woman assigned to a Commander's home who's only function is to get pregnant and hopefully deliver a healthy baby - this is her story. Thanks to environmental and nuclear disasters that have taken place, many men and women are sterile - the men in power devised this handmaid plan to repopulate their new society. Offred has limited freedom - the only time she is allowed out of the house is once a day to walk to the market. She spins the tale of her current situation intermingled with backstory from her childhood, her college years and her former marriage as well as how she ended up as a handmaid. Margaret Atwood is a brillant writer and this classic will not disappoint. And while this book is considered sci-fi, do not let the label scare you off, it is a wonderful story with excellent writing and a frightening message. One of my new favorites.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 174 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Listed as one of the best one hundred books of the 20th Century. It did not disappoint.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Wonderful book. It has a very Orwellian feel with a completely different story line. This book really made me think what direction the world would have gone in if we didn't have progress in the areas of women's liberation. A real eye opener for me.
busterboomer avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 96 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This was an eerie book, in terms of what was written as to women that had no control over their bodies and were definitely second class citizens. Then I think of women in other parts of the world today that are being treated in similar ways or worse. Then I thought of why didn't people fight back before all of this happened, a lot of questions. This is a work of fiction but still was disturbedly thought provoking. I would recommend this book.
Amedley avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Maybe I just missed something. I was really looking forward to this book because of all the reviews. After I finished, all I could say was... "huh...." It didn't move me, didn't stir anything within, it was just finished. Maybe I'm just not as "deep" as I once thought.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 39 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a fascinating, futuristic story about life in the stronghold of a bizarre puritanical based government and the strong personal will to escape their rule. This was my first book by Atwood and I couldn't wait to pick it up each night.
Norsecross avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
One of the smartest most engrossing books I have ever read. A future society played backwards of the womens equality movement.Fascinating and revels how bad things could get if testosterone ruled the day unchallenged. Thats really all I can say without spoiling it for everybody.
kristicombs avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Helpful Score: 2
Oh my gosh, this is the best book I have read in years. The text is so fluid and just draws you in and embraces you. I found myself crying at one point and when the end came I was sad that the ride was over. I highly recommend this book to everyone!!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I think this is considered one of her best works. I disagree. It was rather...strange. All I kept thinking was that if I had read this in High School, from our summer reading lists, that I would have hated it.
Skip avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A horrifying world, with horrifying consequences to the people in it. Margaret Atwood at her best.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 28 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book was an amazing futuristic story that will scare the bejeezus out of any self-respecting woman. Margaret Atwood is a brilliant storyteller.
"The Handmaid's Tale deserves the highest praise." The San Fransisco Chronicle.
Shaundi avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Helpful Score: 1
This is probably the only book that I was forced to read for a class that I actually enjoyed. Handmaid's Tale is easily one of the best books I've read.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Interesting futuristic story. The ending left me wanting more.
kopsahl48 avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 181 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The Religious Right has officially taken over and all women lose their rights. On top of that they are also facing a reproduction crisis due to all the toxins used. Because of this, any woman that is considered fertile (has given birth in the recent past) becomes high commodity and are reprogrammed by Aunts and sent to homes deemed worthy. The women are used by the man of the house in hopes of conceiving. The creepy way that it is required by the powers that be to conceive is hard to read because I just couldnt imagine human beings using another in such a way. Suffice it to say, the Handmaids (as they are called), are not well liked by the wives of the head of the household and they must tread lightly.

The Handmaids Tale is told from the POV of Offred and her life in the Republic of Gilead. After being reprogrammed she is sent to her new home. She, of course, remembers a time when she was had freedom and wore what she wanted and even had a job, a husband and a child. Now she is considered nothing more than a womb. If she wanted to leave this service she would be stripped of her title and become unwoman and sent to the colonies to do manual labor. The way it was hinted at is that this is something you do not want. In fact, many a Handmaid has taken her life instead of facing the current future or the alternative.

The Handmaids Tale was a decent read and Atwood definitely built a scary world. I personally would have loved if there were some further explanations to the events that happened that caused the Religious Right to take over so quickly. I just wanted more from this novel. The whole time I was reading The Handmaids Tale; it played out in my mind as an old black and white movie and I felt really disconnected from Offred. Worth a read if you like dystopian novels but wouldnt say it would be top priority.
delladea avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Helpful Score: 1
Margaret Atwood gives a disturbing account of a world where very extreme right-wing policies have been instated. It was a gripping read, every chance I had a free moment I had to read to see what happened to Offred. You won't be disappointed with this book.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was the first Atwood book I ever read and it was awesome!! Love this author!!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good Book! Very original and frightening narrative of where our civilization and culture could be headed. The story was a little hard to get into at first but once started it was hard to put down. Highly recommended reading!
quinnmc79 avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Helpful Score: 1
one of my favorite books, I passed it around from friend to friend in college, and can still read it over and over to this day
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Helpful Score: 1
I don't normally like futuristic-type stories but this one really grabbed me. A glimpse into a future where women aren't permitted to socialize, read, etc. Their one true purpose is to provide and provide for children. The author did a great job of bring the story to life....it was somewhat eerie.
arianna avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A great concept and a neat story, although I think I kept trying too hard to figure out where this was happening, or discover hidden secrets, when there weren't any. Atwood presents a chilling view of a potential future, and does it very straightforwardly and engagingly. I definitely recommend this book.
Phantene avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 72 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book really makes you think. A good read, I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.
suburbanmama avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Helpful Score: 1
Really well-written and really depressing.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting book. I had been looking for something different from what I usually read, and this was definately it. Intriguing...disturbing...kept my interest to the end.
midwinter avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 75 more book reviews
I recently finished another Atwood book, Oryx & Crake, and mentioned in my notes that it was like a social critique blown all out of proportion to the point where it was so out of touch with reality that the satire was lost in the exaggeration. Handmaid's Tale is the exact same kind of social critique, but done *exactly* right. It's just the right tone to chill you, make you smile wryly, raise your ire, and make you think long and hard about how closely the book skirts the line between fact and fiction.
Given the current state of world affairs, this book was doubly frightening.
Erinyes avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 279 more book reviews
Really fascinating. I highly recommend.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 285 more book reviews
Great story!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 69 more book reviews
I read this book about 10 years ago and it still scares the bajezums out of me.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 23 more book reviews
Great book by a great author. Paints a picture of a world all too believable.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 39 more book reviews
This is a strange, demented, yet scary book. Lets hope our world never takes on any form of this.
susanrhill2000 avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
I read another book by her and was very interested in reading this one - tried 3 times but just couldn't get past the first 100 pages...
Gashlycrumb avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
One of my all-time favorites!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 8 more book reviews
Another book that was read for my book club. It was a unique look at a Big Brother type civilization that could be ours in the future. I was surprised by the ending. It wasn't how I thought it would end, but was great.
changes4kelly avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 11 more book reviews
This is one of my favorite books ever. Great story, and the movie with Aidan Quinn is a great adaptation too. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Women's Lit.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 7 more book reviews
Dystopia is not usually my cup of tea, but this one did the trick. Kept me reading and provoked some interesting thinking. Exactly what you want when youstray into a new genre seeking inspiration/change/new ideas.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 10 more book reviews
I loved this book
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 2 more book reviews
I'm so very glad that Offred's story is imperfect and honest. This is what makes the book accessible to women across generations. It's also astounding that we still hear the same arguments about protecting women from their own free will (rights) and decisions.

It's really a timeless tale and worthwhile reading for any young woman or man.
merina avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 31 more book reviews
This wasn't the type of book that I 'couldn't put down' but I still really loved it! I had dreams about a sequel to it all night after I finished it!
grammyteach avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 192 more book reviews
couldn't finish this book :(
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 11 more book reviews
A somewhat disturbing/odd story on how one author sees one possibility for the future. Interesting views on society, and human psychology. Basically the story is women being stripped of their rights and live their lives controlled by men.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 296 more book reviews
This is an excellent book and, I think, demonstrates how the country would be if the current administration and the fanatic "religious right" (which is neither) have their way to the fullest!!!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 38 more book reviews
This book knocked my socks off. I loved it and kept thinking about it for days after I finished.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 72 more book reviews
amazing tale of technological "progress" and the subjugation of women...
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 2 more book reviews
Fascinating, haunting story
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 10 more book reviews
This book is a shocking view into a Utopia that you cannot help but find yourself wondering....Could this actually happen? Very powerful!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 7 more book reviews
I love this book. It started my collection of margaret Atwood books, I own almost all of them. I had to order an additional copy of this book because I could not find mine, (I have loaned this book out numerous times.)
I would recommend to everyone.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 27 more book reviews
Chilling portrait of a future that only Margaret Atwood can tell. She is a great author!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 26 more book reviews
Amazing writer, totally engrossing story!
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 49 more book reviews
A chilling portrait of a future where society has changed and is trying to control women's bodies. Where women are not allowed to read but their value is on their ability to reproduce. Frailties of the former times surface and an underground works to free the handmaidens. A thought provoking but frightening view of a possible future.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Very interesting book- kinda scary to think something like that could happen...
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 9 more book reviews
This is one of my favorite all-time novels. It's at once futuristic and frighteningly contemporary...
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 5 more book reviews
A truly amazing book from a fabulous author. Everyone should read this book!
debbiemd avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
I don't normally read dystopian or science fiction but read this for bookclub. Written in 1986 and sometime around then the world ends and is taken over by men. The Caucasian birth rate is falling in part due to birth control and in part due to excess toxic waste. So the male ruling society creates a world where women are not allowed to work or read and have no freedoms and where fertile women become handmaids - given to the ruling men and their older wives for the sole purpose of bearing children for them.

This book is dark and sinister. It is well written though and is the story of one handmaid and her life with her commander (male ruler) and her flashbacks to her past life which included a husband and child. She misses love and the emotion of love which no longer exist in the new world. There is a female underground railroad which is a spark of hope but overall no one knows in this society who they can trust and punishments are severe. The end was interesting and well-written - the discovery of the handmaid's story in an old army trunk a couple hundred years in the future.

Even though I don't normally read dystopia I am glad I read this book which is a classic. It is also an interesting read given today's political climate.
timid-gardener avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 9 more book reviews
This is a paperback version of this book
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Wonderful book!
ophelia99 avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 2527 more book reviews
I've had this book on my TBR pile for quite awhile. I ended up enjoying it. The way things are revealed throughout is cleverly done. I also enjoyed the somewhat wandering story style that reflected the sheer boredom of Offred's life.

I listened to this on audiobook. Claire Danes did a fantastic job narrating this book and I would definitely recommend listening to on audiobook if you enjoy audiobooks.

This is one of those books that you don't want to talk a lot about because a big part of the story is the slow reveal of the world, the past, and what's happening presently. Offred bounces back and forth between her âold lifeâ as a normal wife and mother, her current life as a Handmaid, and her near past life where she was in training to become a Handmaid. This makes the story a bit wandering but it fits with Offred's struggle with complete boredom, which is even more challenging for her to deal with than some of the atrocities she undergoes.

The whole book is an interesting look at how such a far fetched and oppressive type of society can form and stay in power. It also discusses human rights and the ability of people to adapt to almost any situation to survive.

I would recommend for adult and older; there are some explicit sex scenes (although these aren't described in a ton of detail) and torture (both emotional and physical) in here. I was impressed at how well this book stands the test of time. The writing style is very unique and beautiful if a bit ambiguous and wandering at times. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more closure at the end. However I did enjoy the ending which is done from a different POV.

Overall this was a unique and interesting read which I enjoyed. It's an interesting look at the rise of a dystopian society and how deeply the residents of that society are affected. I would recommend to those interested in dystopian books and women's rights. While I probably won't read this again, I am glad that I read it.
therubycanary avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 44 more book reviews
I thought this was a fantastic book. There is an interesting interview with Margaret Atwood on Bill Moyer's Faith and Reason series that talks quite a bit about the book.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/faithandreason/portraits_atwood.html
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 30 more book reviews
One of my favorite books of all time.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 88 more book reviews
A very different type of story,but captivating.This book should definately hold your interest from start to finish.Disturbing,futuristic.
dragoneyes avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 590 more book reviews
A really interesting book that shows you how your world can change in what seems like a blink of an eye. Things happened very subtly then all of the sudden someone else is in power and the world is turned upside down.
I enjoyed this tale that is woven around Offred. This is a woman who has everything taken away from her - her job, her husband, her child and even her name. She is now a machine used to reproduce in a world where birthrates have fallen. In order to survive, she keeps her thoughts to herself and slowly moves through life hanging onto a thin thread of hope. It is quite a depressing tale but one that is worthy of reading. Look forward to then 2nd book in this story.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 24 more book reviews
A classic in its own right, Margaret Atwood is a wonderful writer that really knows how to evoke emotion.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 2 more book reviews
Good story about a young woman in a dystopian society
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 9 more book reviews
Wonderful and unnerving story of what our distant future may hold. Quick read, well-written.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 53 more book reviews
A great look at how society could become in the future especially for women. Definitely recommend this book.
FrequentReader avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 40 more book reviews
Great book. Wickedly twisted.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 16 more book reviews
phenominal
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 10 more book reviews
In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 287 more book reviews
This is one of my favorite books. It's scary to think how easily the world slipped into the Republic of Gilead.
katknit avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 355 more book reviews
more wierd than anthing else
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 130 more book reviews
Interesting and thought provoking tale.
Moo avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 111 more book reviews
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmands are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge, but all of that is gone now...everything has changed.
________________________________

THE HANDMAID'S TALE
In rich, pure language, in a story so powerful it will move you to tears, Margaret Atwood has drawn a chilling protrait of a future that may not be so very far away.

WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
BEST FICTION AWARD FOR 1986

"EXTRAORDINARILY SATISFYING,
DISTURBING, AND COMPELLING,"
The Washington Post Book World
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on
Very interesting and thought provoking tale.
BusyTeach avatar reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 6 more book reviews
Great read! Couldn't put it down.
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 6 more book reviews
One of my favorites
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 41 more book reviews
Very Interesting
reviewed The Handmaid's Tale on + 16 more book reviews
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