The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

the testamentsThe Testaments is the sequel to Atwood’s outstanding novel. The Handmaid’s Tale, and takes us further into Gilead, allowing us to see more of the messed up, dystopian world ruled by the Sons of Jacob.

While The Handmaid’s Tale was told through one POV (Offred), The Testaments is told through three – Aunt Lydia, who expands on the treatment of women in the early days of the regime, Agnes Jemima, a young girl growing up in Gilead, and Daisy, a teenager in Canada.

Aunt Lydia’s sections read most like The Handmaid’s Tale, as she records her diary and hides it from prying eyes, giving the reader an insight into the function of the Aunts, and how they came to be in their position.

In contrast, Agnes’ and Daisy’s chapters read much more like a YA novel, presented as ‘witness statements’ as the girls reveal how they came to be in their current situations. The chapters switch back and forth, painting deeper pictures of what growing up in Gilead is like, and how the rest of the world views the situation.

One thing that struck me when I read The Handmaid’s Tale last year was how, after all this time, it’s still so scaringly relevant. With The Testaments, Atwood doesn’t shy away from current issues. Countries are too scared to step in and deal with Gilead, preferring to watch from afar as Gilead puts out its own propaganda, meant, at times, to make places like Canada feel better about doing nothing. Fleeing refugees are dealt with poorly, with some people resenting their presence. And children protest against Gilead, while others raised there see no wrong in the way they are brought up.

The contrast between the two girls works really well, especially when we get glimpses of Agnes’ school life, and her best friends. Gilead is very much a patriarchal (in the strongest sense) and classist society, Agnes’ classmates treatment of her affected by how many Marthas she has, by the fact her father gets a handmaid, and so on. Although things do not sit quite right with her, she accepts them, only acting to change things once she receives permission.

In contrast, Daisy is strong-willed and stubborn, keen to make her voice heard, though at most times she comes across as apathetic, almost like a mask to conceal what she actually feels.

The characters in The Testaments feel as real and vivid as Offred, from Aunt Lydia’s recollections of how Gilead started, to the words of the two girls who have never known a world without Gilead. Despite her sheltered upbringing, Agnes does have empathy for people around her. Lydia quietly works to maintain her place, and Daisy searches for answers once it becomes clear her parents haven’t always told her the truth.

At times, it becomes easy to dislike some of the characters, but questions are raised regarding whether you would take the same course of action, or do something differently. Whether it is worth risking your life for the innocents around you, or risk the life of people you love for the greater good.

The Testaments isn’t as good as The Handmaid’s Tale, and it is, in many ways, an easier read, feeling a little bit more removed, more with a dystopian YA feel than The Handmaid’s Tale, but it is still powerful in its own way, and still carries the threat of Gilead, showing how easy it would be for a regime such as that to take over, and for many to ignore the suffering happening right before their eyes.

Blogmas #8: End of Year Book Tag

Blogmas #8Again, big thanks to Jenn, for pointing me in the direction of her Blogmas list. One of the suggestions there was for an End of Year Book Tag, and you can read her post here.

If you read my previous tag post, you’ll know I don’t often do book tag things, but I did enjoy it, so maybe I shall do more in 2020. We shall see.

1. Are there any books you started this year you need to finish?

the testamentsSo far, just The Testaments and Cricket Hunters. I don’t tend to pick up then put down books for extended periods of time, unless it’s something really harrowing I can’t read straight through and need short gaps from. There are more books I’d like to read before the end of the year, but none I’ve actually started reading.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?

I don’t get books for specific seasons, but if I get a book and it fits a specific season (such as my recently reviewed Season of Wonder) I will try and wait to read it. But right now, I don’t have anything like that on my TBR.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

To be honest, so many great books come out so often, I don’t really keep track of new releases, or separate them from my other books. And if it’s a book I really do want, I’ll usually find an excuse to pick it up.

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

I maybe should have tried to do this earlier in the month. I’m not sure if I’m going to get acreature chance to read three books before the end of the year, but we shall see. If I can, I would love to read Ritual – Steve Stred, Creature – Hunter Shea, and other than that, I’m not quite sure. Depends how much reading I get done in the next week. If you saw my December TBR post, you’ll know I was planning on reading The Dragon Republic, but it’s so big I can’t really take it away with me Monday, so this will probably get left until the New Year now.

5. Is there a book that you think could still shock you and become your favourite?

Considering the amount of good things I’ve heard about it, it’s possible this happens with Creature.

6. Have you already made reading plans for 2020?

Not really, mainly because I don’t like to plan out what I’mm going to read and when, because I would really struggle to stick to it. That said, I am hoping to clear most of my now backlog of review books, and maybe possibly join Netgalley, if I have the time. We shall see. Other than that, more of the same, though with the way this year ended, I’ll be reading a lot more horror next year than this year. Which is definitely not a bad thing.

25-Post-Ideas-for-BlogmasBlogmas #1 – Christmas TBRBlogmas #2: The Most Wonderful Time of the YearBlogmas #3: Christmas ReadsBlogmas #4: Bookish Naughty or Nice ListBlogmas #6: 2019 Wrap Up & 2020 GoalsBlogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 1Blogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 2

Blogmas #1 – Christmas TBR

Blogmas #1.pngSo I thought I’d give Blogmas a go this year, because why not. Although I likely won’t be posting every day, I’ll do my best to post as often as I can and offer up some Christmassy posts for your enjoyment. Jenn, who has an absolutely fantastic blog you really should check out, pointed me in the direction of her Blogmas list, (which you can check out here) so I’ll mostly be using that, with some amendments of my own.

My Christmas TBR, much like my October TBR which I talked about at the start of Blogtober, isn’t really centered around Christmas. Mainly because I have so many books waiting to be read, and with my Goodreads challenge cleared, I want to try and get to some of the bigger ones.

However, there is one book I’ve been waiting a good few months to read, and which I started last night.

season of wonderSeason of Wonder is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories, all centered around winter, Christmas and holiday themes. Edited by Paula Guran, the anthology brings together many names familiar to genre readers, and after reading the first story last night, I’m excited to dig into the rest, and nestle in with these wintery, Christmassy tales.

I tend now to have one book on the go for ‘pleasure’, and another for review. I do review ‘pleasure’ books, but they’re not ones I’ve specifically been asked to review and review books tend to be on my Kindle anyway. Right now, I’m reading Follow Him, by Craig Stewart, reading for a blog tour in Feb. I am really enjoying this one. It’s creepy and eerie, and I’m not really that far into follow himit. But it’s building up to be a tense, exciting read – keep an eye out for my post early next year.

Sticking with review books for now, I also want to try to get to Ritual by Steve Stred. I’ve heard really good things about this on Twitter from the horror community, so I am excited to dig into it. There’s also Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler, which looks like a fantastic horror read.

The other two books I want to try and get to by the end of the year are both 2019 releases, and both sequels to books I’ve absolutely loved. The Testaments arrived with great fanfare, and because I pre-ordered with my local bookshop, and was the testamentsone of the first to do so, I was extremely lucky to get a signed copy. I’m eager to read this – I only read The Handmaid’s Tale this year, shortly before the sequel was announced, and one thing that kept hitting me was how relevant the novel still is. That’s not a good thing, but I think The Testaments is really needed in the current climate.

The last book is The Dragon Republic, which I feel everyone has probably read by now except me. The Poppy War was an amazing novel, and again, if I can get to this by the end of the year I’ll be super happy, especially as these are both fairly big books. We’ll see how it goes.

What about you, friends? What’s on your TBR for this month?

25-Post-Ideas-for-Blogmas