***MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE HANDMAID’S TALE AND THE TESTAMENTS***
As soon as I found out Margaret Atwood was writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale I couldn’t wait to read it! I was skeptical of course, loving the ambiguous ending of The Handmaid’s Tale and believing that it ended completely in it’s own way, I was curious about what exactly the story of The Testaments would be. But being a big fan of Atwood I wasn’t too worried, and naturally ended up loving the sequel for all the way’s it’s different.
Taking place fifteen years after The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments follows three narrators who give their testaments on their lives inside and outside of Gilead.
The Testaments reads very differently from The Handmaid’s Tale, some reviewers have commented on The Testaments reading more like a YA novel and while I agree that doesn’t make the novel juvenile or easy in any way, it just makes it different. I believe a big reason for the difference in tone is how that the characters are each telling their stories differently. Offred didn’t know who she was speaking to or who (if anyone) would hear her story. She was telling her story to stay sane, hoping that a part of her would live on in the future and the hope that Gilead would be gone. The narrators of The Testaments however are telling us about what happened after because they’re testimonies. We know what happens to Gilead now, we know what happens after, it isn’t guessing it’s a fact from these narrators of what happened after. Still, Atwood takes great care to make each voice unique. And while the revelation of who each of the narrators were wasn’t exactly surprising it still made for an enjoyable novel.
I particularly enjoyed reading Agnes’ perspective, who’s perspective as a daughter growing up in Gilead was absolutely terrified, especially one scene the character described that sickened me so much I had to stop reading. The Handmaid’s Tale is vague to the extent of Gilead’s horrors, only showing us the handmaid perspective, The Testaments is detailed in Gilead’s rottenness to all who live their, regardless of status it’s evil touches everyone.
Atwood’s sequel brings hope when it’s predecessor brought hopelessness. We wanted the best for Offred, hoped she had made it out of Gilead but were ultimately left blind as to how her story ended. While I do like ambiguous endings, especially that of The Handmaid’s Tale, and while The Testaments isn’t as ambiguous and wasn’t even a book that necessarily needed to be written it was one Atwood felt, and I think the world, needed. Atwood chose to make the future brighter. She gives hope not only for her characters but to her readers, to women, to the world that yes things are bad and they can be bad and scary for a very long time, but they won’t always remain that way. We hope and we fight for change because that’s the only to get the bad away, to fight and bring about the good.
The Testaments doesn’t disregard the darkness of Gilead or Offred’s struggle, if anything Atwood gives us more reason to fight and to continue fighting against the bad things happening around us so that we can bring about that change and hope for ourselves.
Publication: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Pages: 422 pages
Genre: Fiction, Canadian, Speculative Fiction
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.