Tag: Dystopia

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale
Series: The Handmaid’s Tale #1

Author: Margaret Atwood
First Published: 1985
314 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now . . .

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

Kim’s Review:

What an intense read! Like Orwell and Bradbury, Atwood is great with the cautionary tales! It does take a little while to get going and figure out what is happening, but then it takes off! I realize that as a woman, my perspective is going to be different. Listening to Offred comparing her life in Gilead to her life during the Anarchy, I was terrified. Leaving abortion out of it (I’m not going to start a political fight, we all love each other too much to do that), all the rights and freedoms pulled from women are the kinds of things that we’re even seeing today for everyone! Thankfully, it hasn’t gotten nearly as far as Gilead, but like I said, Atwood is all about a cautionary tale. Is it as good as 1984 or Fahrenheit 451? I won’t say that. I’ll also say that maybe it could have used a little more action. However, it’s and engaging and scary read and I think the majority of Americans should read it!

Purchase Links:
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Matched by Ally Condie

Matched
Series: Matched
Author:  Ally Condie
Published: November 30, 2010
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 20-26, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Jessica’s Review:

I read this series back in 2014 and rated the books 4 stars (Matched), 3 stars (Crossed), and 2 stars (Reached). I remember enjoying Matched the most, but the series got weaker as it went on.  I needed to have an audiobook to listen to and Matched was available with no wait, so I went for it and wondered what my thoughts would be this time based on my memory.  This time I give Matched 3 stars. 

This is a weak series and if you are looking for a dystopian read with a strong female character, stay with The Hunger Games or Divergent.  This series would be suited for younger teenagers.  In Matched, the Society chooses everything for you from what you eat, what your occupation will be, what you can read or listen to (There are only 100 poems and 100 songs, 100 paintings, etc to choose from), where you live, when you die, to whom you will marry by being matched with. 

Cassia receives notification that her Matching ceremony will be on her 17th birthday.  This is where citizens find out who in the Society will become their spouse. During her matching ceremony she finds out who her match is and surprisingly she actually knows him!  Later, she goes to look at the electronic file on him despite knowing so much about him, but another face briefly appears and then disappears.  Surprisingly she also knows this boy. Thus begins a love triangle for Cassia and her beginning doubts about the ‘all perfect society’ that she is a part of.

Matched has a great premise, right?  The delivery just did not work for me this time versus when I previously read it and gave it 4 stars.  I am not the target audience for this novel as it is YA and I the lower rating this time is because I am older.  There were so many things that bothered me about the Society: How has all this time passed and the citizens just let the Society have so much control over them?  Since their spouses are selected for them , have they in a way been ‘bred’ to be controlled? Or they so indoctrinated in this life that they can’t really think for themselves? Has no one had doubts about the Society as Cassia starts to do as the novel progresses?  Yes, Cassia does begin to question more as the novel goes on and begins to become a ‘threat’ to the Society, but for most of the novel it deals with her developing triangle of feelings of Xander and Ky.  Xander whom she has known her whole life and Ky who she knew but he was ‘not on her radar’ until he showed up and then disappeared in the electronic file.   

There is a lot more to the Society than I have mentioned here.  Would I say read this novel? Yes, as everything the Society does is intriguing and the fact that the citizens do live this way.  Would I say read the other two in the series? No.  The ending for Matched does lead up to the second in the series, Crossed, but based on my memory and seeing my previous ratings for the other two novels, I will pass on it.

As previously mentioned, I listened to the audiobook this time and the narrator Kate Simses is a great voice for Cassia.  One thing that I did not like about the audiobook was towards the end when the book climax was happening (which isn’t much of a climax) there was a score that started playing.  I think it was to add to the climax, but for me it didn’t help build on it and made what should be serious eye roll worthy. 

This one just had a lot of promise that did not deliver well.  I will leave it up to you on if you want to read this one.  It is a terrible pity as the covers of this series are absolutely GORGEOUS and worthy of owning just because of their looks.  The covers have a lot of meaning to them, which includes the colors which become apparent as you read the novels. 

Purchase Links:
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Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Published: September 17, 1954
307 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

As provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, Lord of the Flies continues to ignite passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary boys marooned on a coral island has been labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, and even a vision of the apocalypse. But above all, it has earned its place as one of the indisputable classics of the twentieth century for readers of any age:

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued.

Kim’s Review:

What. A. Read. I mean holy cow! I’ll admit that I should have read Lord of the Flies many years ago, but for whatever reason, I just read it recently. I’m actually glad I didn’t read it in high school, ‘cuz I guarantee you, I wouldn’t have understood, nor appreciated it. Plus, I wouldn’t let most teens read it anyway. It’s incredibly mature for teens and I’m not sure it can be justified as high school reading. Maybe senior year . . . Maybe.

It started off slow. I had no idea what was happening. As with much great literature, Lord of the Flies is all about the journey, the growth. I spent most of the book trying to understand what the heck Golding was trying to say. Ivan and my dad kept telling me to stick with it, the ending will be worth it, you’ll get it at the end. That’s the reason it’s getting 4 stars, it did get a bit monotonous in the middle and there was no end in sight. It did get a little frustrating. But I kept reading, and boy were they right! The end is everything! It all comes down to one line and it reveals the entire reason Golding wrote Lord of the Flies. I can’t quote it ‘cuz I don’t want to spoil it. I would absolutely recommend that every college student be required to read Lord of the Flies. And anyone who hasn’t read it yet, needs to! An excellent book!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
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