- Dystopia / Science Fiction x1
- YA Fantasy x1
This reading year has been off to a fairly good start! I said that I wanted to read 26 books, or a book a fortnight, and I stuck to that in January.
This month I finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. I already uploaded a full review of EoS a few days ago that you can read here, but I will say that it was a five out of five star read – I genuinely struggled to fault it.
The Handmaid’s Tale follows Offred, a woman forced into becoming a handmaid (a woman existing solely to reproduce) by a totalitarian regime formed from the overthrowing of a previous government. Women are either assigned to men and forced into sex, or must face work in the Colonies, with a slim chance of survival.
I found reading The Handmaid’s Tale to be a genuinely confusing experience for two reasons. The first, Atwood’s stream-of-consciousness narrative meant that the plot jumped around all over the place, making it difficult to tell whether events were taking place in the past or the present, or whether they actually happened at all. The second, I just could not pin down whether I was actually enjoying it or not, right up to the very end.
The reason I don’t think I hated the novel was definitely down to the plot, rather than the characters. As I always say, I much prefer character-driven novels to those where the plot development comes before the character development, however on this one occasion I found that somehow the plot was interesting enough and original enough to cover the fact that I don’t think I liked any of the characters. I was sympathetic towards Offred’s situation as a woman in a world dominated by men; however I did find it difficult to trust anything she said. As this was a book I had to read for class, we discussed whether or not Offred can be seen as a weak character, and this I found difficult to pin down as well. There are moments when she does appear to just accept her situation, and the way she does so becomes boring in parts, however given her situation it’s difficult to blame her for what would be very difficult to change.
I did enjoy the symbolism and references to expectations of women and femininity in the novel; I found Atwood’s references to flowers and fertility interesting throughout, and provided a good theme to weave throughout the novel as a whole. Other than this, however, I don’t have a great deal to comment on because I am still trying to determine what I thought of it. The novel was okay. Would I recommend it? As an entertaining read, probably not. As a haunting depiction of what society could become, probably. I gave it four out of five stars, but in hindsight, that’s definitely a bit generous…
As for February, I’m very excited about it as a reading month. I’ve got several non-fiction books that are waiting to be read, about a topic that I’m very, very passionate about (mysterious I know, there’ll be a blog post on that later). In terms of fiction, I’m still not in the mood for YA particularly, so it’s on to more fantasy I think.
Let me know what genres you’re loving at the minute, and if there are any new YA releases coming out in the near future that might get me back in the mood for it!
First book for February: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
2017 reads to date: 2