Do you want to read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood but have concerns? Let me address some of the things that might be nagging you.
There’s too much hype.
How could hype be avoided in this case?! It’s been decades in the coming; there’s been an insanely successful television series made; and Handmaid’s is more politically relevant than ever before. Also, hype-schmype – Atwood’s no newcomer, you’re in safe hands.
As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
You’ll need to re-read Handmaid’s to pick up the story.
No, you won’t, just dive in. Gilead still exists but Atwood leaps forward in time and introduces new characters. In writing The Testaments, Atwood wanted to address the question, “How do totalitarianisms fall apart?“ (so you can expect some answers, or ‘just desserts’ if you’d prefer to frame it that way). In her Acknowledgements, Atwood states, ‘Totalitarianisms may crumble from within, as they fail to keep the promises that brought them to power; or they may be attacked from without; or both. There are no sure-fire formulas, since very little in history is inevitable.’
That said, it is most certainly a sequel and you need to know the story of Handmaid’s before reading The Testaments.
Hour by hour we watched vans arrive, discharge their quota of women, depart empty. The same wailings from the new arrivals, the same barking and shouts from the guards. How tedious is a tyranny in the throes of enactment. It’s always the same plot.
It can’t be as good as Handmaid’s…
Challenge accepted. Glance through these quotes and ponder how they might be applied to history, or what is happening in the world now.
You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.
We’re stretched thin, all of us; we vibrate; we quiver, we’re always on the alert. Reign of terror, they used to say, but terror does not exactly reign. Instead it paralyzes. Hence the unnatural quiet.
How can I have behaved so badly, so cruelly, so stupidly? you will ask. You yourself would never have done such things! But you yourself will never have had to.
It’s better that way, and I am a great proponent of better. In the absence of best.
But the TV series… Is The Testaments just a written version of season 2?
No. I won’t say how but Atwood continues the Handmaid’s story and at the same time takes it in a completely different direction. It’s genius.
4.5/5 This is how you do sequels, people.