I hate not finishing a book, I really do but I just can't bring myself to read another 200 pages of this endlessly frustrating mystery, I don't like any of the characters and I have a feeling the pay off just won't be worth it.
★★★★ This is the second time I've read this and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time around. The plot hurtles forward at a break neck pace and not a single page is wasted, I found it so hard to put down. Yes the plot is ridiculously farfetched but who doesn't love a conspiracy theory involving a long dead secret society! Can't wait to read the next one!
Not the best entry into the series but enjoyable none the less. I particularly liked Orion, the story itself was a bit different to the rest of the series but it was nice to have an all new bad guy rather than retreading old ground. Onto the final book in the series!
How can you end a book like The Handmaid's Tale with that! I have so many questions I don't know where to begin. Perhaps I should start by saying this is a work of pure genius and it has taken over my life ever since I watched the first episode of the new TV version (which I have paused after 3 episodes so I could finish the book first). I remember my mum talking to me about this book a good 10 years ago and trying to explain it to me and why it is one of her all time favourite reads, I must have tuned out and I'm kicking myself for doing that because this book is amazing.
This is such a thoughtful book, written from Offred's perspective some time after the events it describes (which did make me happy as I was convinced that must mean she found a way out). It is deeply personal to Offred's experience and is heartbreaking, funny, brutal and rational all at the same time (I know that's an odd choice of adjectives but it's how I was left feeling). I was hooked from page one and was desperate to know more (how ironic) about everything in Offred's world.
Watching the TV series first I hadn't noticed the implications of Offred's name until I saw it written down, and the looks and brief moments of consideration between the actresses in the series are transformed here into paragraphs of agonising and internal monologue trying to gauge the slightest reaction and the potential consequences (as I said, total genius). It utterly terrified me and at the same time I couldn't stop looking at it, I suppose the only thing to compare it to is watching an accident happen, you can see the potential for it, can see it happening, know the results will be horrible but somehow you just can't tear your eyes away.
Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of this book is the potential for it to actually happen. It's so easy to see how and why someone would be an Aunt (I found these the most vile aspect and the true "gender traitors" of the book). You only have to turn on the news to see all kinds of religious extremism worldwide and the lengths people will go to in the name of their God. Humanity, when it is desperate, is not a nice thing to watch, and from the historical notes at the end you can see the reasoning and justifications for Gilead (I studied history at university and I am now reevaluating how many totalitarian societies I have studied from a coldly clinical perspective like this). This is the ultimate what if? I hope to God (I know, there's that irony again) that this never happens and stays fictional. But there is one shining piece of advice for all oppressed women to take from this, Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
I wish I could put my finger on why I am not enjoying this series. I think it's a combination of things, the writing I am finding a bit simplistic and (like the first book) I feel like this could have been half the size without losing any of the actual plot. I still don't have a clue what is going on and my brain can't conjure any rational explanation for why these trial are necessary, fingers crossed for the next book to be full of exposition because at this stage I'm just frustrated by the whole mystery. I also really dislike Thomas, well maybe not Thomas himself, but the way he is written just makes him seem so two dimensional, I know he has lost his memory but he seems to have lost his common sense and any form of human emotion as well.
My grumbling aside I did enjoy the plot of this one marginally more than the first book, I think because they had an actual destination to get to this time rather than just being lost in the worlds strangest maze. I also liked the introduction of Jorge and Brenda, do I trust them? Well I think I'd been an idiot to trust anyone in this series, I'll just have to get to the end to find out who works for WICKED and if WICKED really is good or not!
To my shame I know very little about the Bosnian war (which happened only 20 years ago) and after finishing this I feel like I should seek out some more books on the topic. This is the story of three Sarajevans going about their everyday life in very out of the ordinary situations. Arrow is a sniper who hates "the men on the hills" and is tasked with protecting The Cellist from enemy fire, Kenan is walking through a ruined city in search of water for his family and elderly neighbour and Dragan is on his way to work for a loaf of bread. Each has a very different experience in the city under siege and each story concludes with a slightly different message.
I did really enjoy this book, it is very uniquely told and will haunt me for a long time. In particular I found Dragan and Kenan's stories of moving through the city particularly harrowing. In my life I have never had to wonder if I am in the sights of an enemy sniper and I hope that I will never have to.
It's always a risky strategy when time travel is involved, especially when you have your heroes tampering with their own pasts and altering the events leading up to previous books. Colfer pulls it off very well resulting in the ultimate time paradox that will hurt your brain if you think too much about it. There is always a strong environmental theme in these books, but this one in particular really hammered the point home, focusing on endangered species both real and mystical. Definitely my favourite of the series after the first book, it goes a lot darker and there were a lot less fart gags and an altogether more serious tone.