As a rule, I don’t like dystopian fiction. 1984 was a slog, and The Hunger Games never felt real to me. So it was very strange to find myself picking up Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and being completely engrossed by it.
This novel is one read by practically every junior in high school for the last twenty years. Despite the amount of times it’s been run through the curriculum, the story holds up.
The society, called Gilead, through the eyes of the narrator is intense and fearful. It’s one of those stories that you have to pull yourself out of every once in awhile, just to stay sane. I would read through a particularly striking passage, only to realize that I had been holding my breath through the whole thing. That right there is something magical.
It’s not for the fainthearted, though. This book is a rough one to read, loaded with social commentary that feels just as relevant as it was at its publishing in 1985. Atwood manages to discuss up complex issues like abortion and freedom of religion without ever feeling heavy-handed.
This is one of the few books I’ve ever been assigned to read that I could honestly recommend to others, and the first dystopian literature I have enjoyed in a long time.
-Zoe K., 11th Grade