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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

10/10 Atwood's long awaited sequel to The Handmaid's Tale does not disappoint

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize

Margaret Atwood's long awaited sequel to The Handmaid's Tale does not disappoint, providing a moving and satisfying conclusion to the dark world of Gilead.

The Handmaid's Tale, shows present day America as a dystopia, with conservative ideology taken to its extreme. Following a coup by the radical group The Sons of Jacob, the US becomes a military dictatorship now known as Gilead.

The religious fanaticism sees Gilead forming strict social classes, going so far as to colour code the outfits of the population. Women are the most restricted people. Low fertility rates coupled with puritanical views on sex leads to the creation of Handmaids; fertile women with no bodily autonomy, treated as property, forced to bear children for the commanders of The Sons of Jacob.

The Handmaid's Tale shows how Offred, a Handmaid navigates this world.

The Testaments follows three very different women: an Aunt, instrumental in forming and enforcing a woman's role in Gilead. A teenage girl brought up in Gilead who rejects the path of Wife, that as the daughter of a commander is expected of her. And a teenage girl living in Canada, with seemingly no connection to the lives of the other women, aside from her disdain for Gilead, having learned about the regime in school. Progressively the three stories begin to intersect, allowing the reader to see the previously unseen mechantions of the world.

Atwood masterfully crafts a narrative which gives the reader equal measures and reflection. The Testaments is top tier speculative fiction, providing social commentary which is seamlessly woven into the story; There is no need to pause or step back from the plot for introspection as the concepts Atwood examines are highlighted through the characters themselves as they navigate the dynamics of the dystopia.

The Testaments provides not only a satisfying read but also a hopeful one too. For readers seeking to see more of Gilead and what led to its fall, look no further.

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