The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Book Review

the handmaids tale cover

The Handmaid’s Tale definitely succeeded in being terrifying; but I did also find it confusing. There was only vaguely-hinted-at explanations as to what was really going on in the world around the protagonist, and I found myself really looking for much more of an explanation as to what happened in the world to lead to the society The Handmaid’s Tale is set in, and the scale of this society. We know from context that it takes place in the US; but is this just one relatively isolated community? Is this nation-wide? A fertility crisis is also hinted at, but not quite fully explained.

That said, I actually do feel that a lot of those gaps are probably excusable, considering our narrator’s position. It’s likely, or even guaranteed, she would have had little to no access to information. I would, however, have liked to have had some of the jargon explained, some things that I’m sure the narrator *would* know. We never learned what exactly the Marthas are; I never quite got what the purpose or role of the Wives was, or even the Commanders. So much of this book is shrouded in mystery and some level of confusion.

I felt that the atmosphere was palpable and expertly written. I haven’t seen the series (yet!); but I got the distinct impression of silence and quiet throughout the vast majority of this book. The narrator’s world has become so small, and you can really feel that through the writing.

The social commentary in this book also came through loud and clear, and I think it’s especially relevant in the current time.  – Anne ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The Handmaid’s Tale is a gripping, disturbing story and I’m glad that I have finally read it!

The issues covered in this book are extremely timely. I think the social commentary is well done. There were aspects of the narrative that I thought were frustratingly vague and ended up leaving me with a lot of questions. Overall, I could hardly put this book down. Certain scenes were very visceral. I think the atmosphere felt appropriately oppressive. The small joys Offred found nearly broke my heart. I believe she is in some ways imperfect character but also one with a lot of strength. So I certainly appreciated that depth!

Definitely a book I’d recommend – a must read. I really felt empathy for Offred throughout the story. I am curious to see how the television series compares to the book… – Jake ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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