I think it’s fair to say that, over the past few (or ten) years, my tastes have moved from darker, more dystopian books to things that are, shall we say, a little lighter. From China Mieville and Clive Barker to Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series and John Connolly’s Samuel Johnson books.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t still enjoy a good horror or dark fantasy (and Barker and Mieville will always be among my favourites), but just as I’m less able to stomach gore (suggestion works. I don’t need a step by step description of exactly how the poor woman’s intestines were removed through her nostril or something), I’m less able to immerse myself in books that don’t have at least a glimmer of light.
So maybe that’s part of the reason I was slow coming to The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m not sure why it wasn’t on my reading list a long time ago, when I was reading Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 and being both fascinated and horrified by them, but there we go. It sat on my shelf for a long time, too. In today’s climate, reading a book about a whole swathe of the population having their power, their autonomy, and their identity taken away completely, just because of who they are, cuts a little close for comfort.
But I finally got to it, and I’m so glad I did. Subject matter aside (and unsettling? Oh, unsettling. I had to read more slowly than usual, and spent more than a couple of nights staring at the ceiling), Atwood writes with such skill and surety, and I’m already adding more of her books to my TBR. If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale yet, do.
Now – watch on for more ramblings (including the bits I didn’t like)!
And now tell me, lovely people – have you read any Atwood? What are your thoughts? What should I read next? And what of these sort of “near-dystopian” books are your favourites? Let me know below!