Atwood's The Testaments will make you see Gilead in a new light
That can't be the ending....
This was my stunned reaction to The Handmaid's Tale back in my senior year of high school. I was devastated that I would never get to see how June's story would end. Was she betrayed? Did she find a better life? The questions have haunted me for years, just like the chilling world Atwood created.
So when The Testaments released last week, I was thrilled to be able to get some answers and see more of Gilead. There is always a fear going into a sequel that it won't hold up to the first novel, but Atwood has had so many decades to think about her sequel. I should have known, too, that the amazingly talented writer wouldn't disappoint.
I flew through The Testaments as fast as possible, once again enveloped by the chilling, haunting world of female depravity that is Gilead. However, The Testaments goes deeper into Gilead and gives new perspectives of the world. The book focuses on the Aunts instead of the Handmaids, which gives a new view of power, lies, and deception in the corrupt, failing world.
I'm amazed by Atwood's attention to detail in her world building. Every question is truly answered, and every intricacy is handled with expert prose. This book gives a deeper look into the inner workings of the society and also at how it began.
Told from three different perspectives in testimony/diary format, the book weaves together three influential women in Gilead. I won't tell you who they are because I don't want to spoil anything. Just know that they have strong voices, intriguing stories, and plenty of secrets to divulge.
This book isn't filled with crazy twists or even a lot of action. It is told instead of shown, but I found that fitting for this eerie world. The distant feel of the narrator's added to the creepy quality of the world and underscored how Gilead is falling in this book.
I know many readers are wondering: Will we see June in this sequel? I won't give anything away, but I will say two things:
1. She is not a focus in this story. This is the story of other women.
2. You will see references to her....
I will say I was very disappointed in the final chapter. It did not leave me on a cliffhanger, which I appreciated (I can't wait another 10+ years to get more answers like last time...). However, the last chapter was stiff and dull, at least in my opinion. I understand Atwood's point in the final chapter. I just would have liked to have seen a more poignant end to this heartbreaking, powerful, and haunting story.
Overall, The Testaments is definitely worth the read for anyone who is a fan of The Handmaid's Tale. It didn't ruin the future seasons of the show on Hulu, either. If anything, I'm even more excited to see them.
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USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door