A dystopian classic in the vein of Orwell and Huxley, The Handmaid’s Tale is a terrifying study in how quickly oppression can become the norm. 4/5 stars.
What it’s about: In the near future, a totalitarian Christian regime has overthrown the US government. Reacting to a fertility crisis, the regime seizes any unmarried women or those whose marriages are deemed “invalid”, confiscates their children and forces them to become surrogate mothers for high-ranking officials and their wives. Their only other option is exile and death.
Every element of the totalitarian regime in The Handmaid’s Tale has been used or is currently in use. The reader may gasp in disbelief at how the women of Gilead are treated, but none of the beliefs, systems or punishments seen in the novel were invented by the author. This is part of what makes the novel so chilling: these things have happened and could happen again. Rights for the disadvantaged are usually hard won, but can easily be revoked, particularly in times of national emergency. This is not a work of science fiction.