The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: A Book Review


Along with her The Blind Assassin, this is one of the most convoluted and elaborate novels I have ever read. The story is too cloudy to understand that it requires your powers of concentration, especially if you are not analytical enough to grasp its complexity, the style I have proven Atwood bears the hallmark of.

Instead of analyzing it in a broader literary context with intellectual bravado since everyone can turn to Wikipedia, I’d rather review it in a manner of  what I found out in her writing styles: I’m envious of her skilled mastery for turning into beautiful prose her train of thoughts or whatsoever plays  in the figment of her imagination. Furthermore, she is an unfathomable female writer who can be as genius as any writers mostly celebrated in world literature.

This novel from the first pages to the last is strewn with vivid, beautiful, elegant, graceful, sumptuous sentences which I enjoyed reading rather than   gripping its main idea. The sentences are so lyrical that I chanted them again and again. They melt in my tongue like sweet, dark chocolate, or smell good like a garden,  full of a variety of colorful flowers hovered  above by a swarm of butterflies.

Under an unlikely scenario, if there were still such a world that men were superior to women over skills in writing stories or any literacy pieces, and Atwood were into such a literary show-off ,surrounded by supercilious writers looking down on her feminism, I bet my life that Atwood could dominate or catch up with them at any cost of literary bouts. Don’t dare her write one because this her The Handmaid’s Tale has proved me   wrong that there is something Atwood could make her rather genius. Her novels may appear complex, much more if she writes a simpler or more intricate one. In other words, there is nothing to find fault with her more; it’s crystal clear that she is an extraordinary writer. Roll down the red carpet and pay homage to Her Majesty.

Now, I freely  acknowledge that reading another Atwood’s books could be challenging since I have now the clearest idea of her writing style. Sometime in the future, if I have a great deal of time, perhaps when I reach my mid-life , no longer preoccupied with how to embellish my life with youthful experiences, hers would be one of those books I want to read again and again.As American musician and filmmaker, Frank Zappa put it , so many books, so little time to read.There are still thousands of  books in the world I haven’t read yet.

Also, the best course of technique I should use when I happen to read Atwood’s other books  and others books which have little resemblance to her style  would be a matter of full concentration ( regardless of  how poor my reading comprehension skill is .) Then, I will seat myself at a coffee table with a voluminous dictionary and colorful highlighters scattered around , par for the course in my reading repose. Ho-ho!

P.S . It is now being adapted for a TV series  broadcast live on  Hulu.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )


The Giver by Lois Lowry: A Book Review

thegiverI am a realistic person. Maybe if American philosopher, William James, were still alive, he could describe me as pragmatic. I believe that that is the way everything in the world is. I do not believe in Elysium as in the movie played by oomph daddy, Matt Damon or in Utopia , the superannuated idea of Thomas Moore. I do not even believe in the geographical places   such as Paradise and Hell as in what the Christians believe, let alone the Purgatory described in Divine Comedy which is totally feared by deeply religious readers unless we can figuratively describe them on Earth.  Just I am staunch. Maybe I have been weaned on my background in social sciences. Maybe I am still ignorant less than people who believe in seven virgins as does the ISIS. So, with this perception, there is no wonder I did not appreciate this book, The Giver. I cannot bear with the conspicuous inconsistencies of the story. There are some parts I do not find fascinating.

Readers may   understand that dystopian   and/or utopian stories could be fictional. They are the pigment to the authors’ imagination. In other words, they do not happen in real life as what readers put it. However, for me, fictions could be drawn from personal experiences since writing  is an art, an expression of oneself. So, suffice to say  that  we are all in harmony that when you read such stories, they are   fictitious. Enough said! … But for me, I appreciate dystopian and/or utopian stories more  if they  still cling  to the real world. Sort of oxymoron. I wish the late scientist Stephen Hawking could help me expound what I am trying to drive at here. ( Bleary-eyed)

Ok. Take it easy, Joey. Don’t mind the sea of bright readers, notably those friends of yours who gave it more than four stars lying in waiting, here on Goodreads. (Taking a deep breath)

The first understanding is that the setting is Utopian. Everyone  just in that you-know-what place mentioned in the book is equal, has kind of socialistic and communistic life. You know as in what   life in North Korea   or in Russia before thought to be  like; everyone  has comfortable life; everyone does not need to be capitalistic  to one another; everyone is given whatever job can be assigned to them according to their personality or life styles while growing up. What a superb concept! However, as you reach the core of the story, you realize that you-know-what place turns out to be dystopian. Aha, Moore’s concept is a trash!  Jonas, the main protagonist, in the end, has found out that everything  turns out to be the greatest show on earth, mimicking Richard Dawkins’s book title.

I believe that dystopian and/or utopian stories  are more appreciated   if :

  • people can relate to the dystopian and/or utopian situations; they may happen in their daily life. For instance, if authors write something which concept is about a paradise where people  thought to be living without suffering  from pains someday, as in life is peaceful and physically comfortable, it could be imaginably understood  because people may interpret the existence of such geographical place, for there are many religions in the world.
  • the story could be beyond belief, logic, and scientific  explanation. Why not make it interesting, something that readers may be ignorant of since   they may have no background in the branches of science? For instance, magic witchcraft in Harry Potter series , but  young readers are enchanted by it. Besides, it is a common superstition elsewhere.

In comparison to the The Giver, there are some parts considered an insult to someone’s intelligence (Don’t take the expression literally.) such as:

  1. In the story, The Giver said to Jonas that love does not exist .

My comment: I believe in this   proposition, but wait, all along , all the characters express love as does The Giver.

  1. Superficial settings like some people keep an eye on   everyone in the you-know-what  place, so don’t ever hide anything such as food  or your acts or talks about something excluded from the rules.

My comment:  I wonder about this imaginary  place. Is it a colossal machine? There is an instance that Jonas and The Giver can talk tête-à-tête  when turning something  off which can record their voices. I think I should watch its movie adaptation.

If you argue that it is the voice of the Highest Person which symbolizes God in that you-know-what place, how about the One in Elsewhere? I am sure you may argue that it is the same voice of the Highest Person. Aha, that you-know-who is omnipresent after all, a lame excuse for the famous atheist writer, George H. Smith.

  1. Cringing symbols  like a bicycle   for a rite of passage.

My comment: Of no taste

  1. Releasing babies that are found to be useless or people who give up on their responsibilities by  means of injection or whatever euthanasiac  paraphernalia mentioned in the story.

My comment: The story may suggest that life could  be taken away by the hands of humans, but it appears that humans are like robots dumped when they are no longer useful.

  1. The age when a child finishes her/ his childhood

My comment: This is what I have been blubbering about. This concept could   make someone cringe. We know that this is unacceptable to the law of human development. We all   universally know that we never stop growing as a child at the age of 12. This is the fact that the writer cannot distort. We can justify this fact. So can young readers.  Do you know what I mean to say, buddy?

I wish I could ask Lois Lowry about my points in question, but I forgot that she wrote it in the 1990’s. Besides, this is supposed to be for young adults. May be readers at that early age  are not mentally mature enough to understand the story. Just they are fascinated at it.  I wonder how a  young smart Alec muses it over.

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I didn’t like it.)