By: Margaret Atwood
Published: September 10th, 2019
From the Cover:
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.
As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
I remember when I first read The Handmaid’s Tale a few years ago before the launch of the TV series, I was mesmerized. I was shocked by how timely a book written in 1998 could be to current discourse and events. I was also shocked by just how far one woman’s imagination could go to create such a story. It was brilliant and evocative. The book left me and every other reader hanging on for more. Atwood knew just where to stop to hook readers, and that was something that I appreciated but made me frustrated (in a good way).
Then the TV series came out and I was surprised by how my reading and interpretation of The Handmaid’s Tale seemed to become severely juxtaposed with the dramatic rendition. I have always appreciated the book versions of movies and TV shows and this was no different. However, I was happy to get more from Gilead and to watch the world unfurl even after the final book pages. It was no surprise to me that after 3 TV seasons that Atwood would write a sequel, whether it be to take firm control of the narrative or to squeeze more life out of the series. Like the sucker I am, I couldn’t resist and had to get my hands on The Testaments.
Now, after finishing the novel, I have mixed feelings.
I enjoyed the different point of views this book included, but I really only felt like one of them was profound. I found this book read more like the TV series and less like her first novel, which was disappointing. Also, if you’re looking for a definitive explanation of how everything in Gilead is going to turn out, then this book is for you. A little warning, though: I thought I wanted to know, but now that I know, there is no mystery left. While having a definite ending may seem ideal, I am sitting here wishing there was a little more left to my imagination. I can say I genuinely enjoyed reading this book, and I actually breezed through all 400+ pages of it. However, looking back on the book now, I don’t think it was as good as I hyped it up to be in my mind. I think Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was an achievement that could not be outdone or even matched. Definitely do not read this book if you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale; and maybe you should consider not reading it if you want to keep a little mystery alive.