The Testamentsby Published 10 Sep 2019
|Publisher||Nan A. Talese|
The Testaments Ebook Description
The Testaments PDF Book has good rating based on 62289 votes and 8454 reviews, some of the reviews are displayed in the box below, read carefully for reference. Find other related book of "The Testaments" in the bottom area.
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
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.
"Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." --Margaret Atwood
"The Testaments" Reviews
I can sum it up simply: this book is not needed.
I hoped that wouldn't be the case. I really really hoped Atwood had something important to add to the world of Gilead with this book, but she honestly doesn't. If anything, The Testaments serves only to weaken the power of The Handmaid's Tale.
In the past, I have spoken highly of authors who are not afraid to "be evil" with their books. This may give the impression that they are doing something particularly nefarious, but, in fact, it’s not so much something they do, but everything they don’t. It’s an act of self-restraint to not say everything, to leave some things unanswered, some happy endings unexplored. That, I feel, is one of the greatest strengths of The Handmaid's Tale.
Because there is so much we don't know; can't know. Everything we experience comes from Offred's narrow world view. Everything Offred doesn't know-- we don't know. The ending, too, is famously ambiguous. And these are extremely powerful tools. What we don’t know is powerful. Ambiguity is powerful. Knowing when to finish is powerful. As Aunt Lydia notes herself in this very book:
Where there is emptiness, the mind will obligingly fill it up. Fear is always at hand to supply any vacancies, as is curiosity.
The Handmaid's Tale forces us to wonder, to imagine, to fear the worst and hope for the best. The Testaments not so much.
What this book does is remove the ambiguity. It provides answers to thirty-five year old mysteries that were best left unanswered. I am reminded somewhat comically of Jojo Moyes' inability to let go of her Me Before You characters, repeatedly opening up the story after leaving it on an emotional high. Not every "ooh, I wonder what the characters did next?" should be answered. Sometimes not knowing is so much more effective. And that's Moyes. I didn't expect Atwood to indulge in this sentimentality.
The Handmaid's Tale uses one limited perspective to make us think; The Testaments uses three perspectives and an epilogue in the future to colour in all the corners, leaving nothing to the imagination.
I gave this book two stars for Aunt Lydia's perspective. Without her contribution I am honestly not sure I would have pushed through the second half of the book. The rest of the book is told from the perspective of two teenage girls, one living in Canada and the other in Gilead, and the "twists" regarding them are so glaringly obvious that it is actually a bit embarrassing to read the scenes with the dramatic reveals (chapter cliffhanger obviously). The whole infiltration by the resistance thing was straight out of every other dime a dozen dystopia.
I had so hoped this was going to do something new and important. I hoped it was going to impart a new message, perhaps relevant to modern times. I hoped it was going to be smart and thought-provoking. I am disappointed.
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Check your expectations at the door: The Testaments is a highly entertaining page turner, but it is also probably quite different from whatever you were anticipating.
It differs from its 1985 antecedent, The Handmaid's Tale, in tone, voice and literary heft. That earlier book had a power and a gravitas that is not recaptured here. For me the most striking thing about The Handmaid’s Tale has always been Atwood’s choice of narrator. Offred (in the book she has no other name) is so confined by her circumstances; her isolation is claustrophobic. She is essentially passive, keeping her head down and daring to aim only for survival, while other characters have more agency (Moira and Ofglen both find proactive ways to thwart the Gilead regime, either would have been a more natural choice for a protagonist). Offred is an Everywoman – with her passivity she confronts the reader: Well, what would you do in my place? And don't kid yourself. It's bleak, but the novel's power is in its intimate portrait of powerlessness.
The Testaments is more action-driven, more hopeful, and by extension, less realistic. We follow three characters who are prepared to buck the system, to risk everything to crush the patriarchy. That two of them are teenagers feeds the sense of buoyancy, you get the feeling that Atwood too thinks the kids are gonna save us.
The shift in tone will be familiar to viewers of Hulu's TV series — perhaps both Atwood and the showrunners 'read the room' and recognised that the catharsis of a feelgood fightback is what we crave and need most right now. If the idea of a book set in Gilead being entertaining — even fun — dismays you, best skip this one.
Indeed The Testaments, rather shrewdly on Atwood's part, functions as a sequel to both the first book AND the TV adaptation — deftly combining elements from each, while avoiding the show's most glaring faults (eg its over-reliance on a single character, and tendency to get bogged down plot-wise).
This novel isn't flawless either. One of the narrative voices is by far more compelling than the others (no prizes for guessing that it's the mature, morally compromised Aunt Lydia, not one of the idealistic teenagers). It's a little too TV-ready in the way the characters intersect. Certain plot twists are loudly telegraphed and the narratives don't always jive with the historical documents they purport to be. And my eyes rolled more than once (Underground Femaleroad, really?).
Still there's much to enjoy. The conniving duplicity and monstrous ambivalence of Aunt Lydia makes for thrilling reading. Atwood's prose and story-spinning have lost none of their magic, and for an 80 year old she writes teenage voices surprisingly well! Most importantly, it's compulsively readable.
The Testaments is unlikely to become a perennially relevant classic like its predecessor, and it's unreasonable to expect that kind of greatness from it. As an expansion of the Gilead mythos though, it more than satisfies.
It's not easy being the most anticipated book of the year. I would argue that most of the negative reactions - including my own - are based largely on expectations. Since published in 1985, The Handmaid's Tale has become sacred ground in the literary world; a true modern classic further amplified by the successful show and current political tensions. Stakes for a sequel couldn't be higher and, even for the ever-talented Margaret Atwood, that's a tough performance to deliver. All in all, this is a well-written adventure story that expands the world building hinted at and alluded to by the original. But it's also boring, mostly unsurprising, and generally feels like a cash-in opportunity.
More specifically, I was turned off by all the young characters. About 67% of the book is narrated by youth. Their lack of maturity creates a Middle Grade narrative voice that is jarring and undesired. Not necessarily unrealistic, just annoying. Their kiddish thoughts go on for pages and pages when a few brief lines would have sufficed to assure us these characters are indeed children.
Another downer is how many questions this book doesn't answer. The original ended with such a dramatic cliffhanger, but the unresolved threads there remain largely unresolved here. I won't say which ones to keep this spoiler-free, but it's important to read this book with more appropriate expectations than what was set up by the publisher. You won't get all of your burning questions answered. Probably not any of them.
As for its positive attributes, the few sections narrated by Aunt Lydia are truly spectacular. Aunt Lydia has always been a captivating villain and pulling back the curtain on her thoughts is endlessly intriguing. Listeners of the audiobook are in for an additional treat, since they brought in Ann Dowd from the show to reprise her role for the reading.
Again, all in all, this is a decent yarn. It's not going to be a classic, but it's an okay pop novel. I knew pretty much from the first chapter that it wasn't going to deliver everything I desired for a sequel and by a quarter of the way in it was pretty clear what the ending surprise would be, but it still moved at a good pace and kept me moderately in suspense. For Handmaid’s Tale fans, as long as you lower your expectations there's no reason why you can't find enjoyment in these further adventures of Gilead.
I haven't even finished season 2 of the tv show since it was so emotionally draining but here I am reading this!!
This was my most anticipated book for 2019.
Wait... I should amend that statement...
THIS WAS THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF MY MISERABLE FRIGGIN LIFE!
And much like my life, it was an epic disappointment.
The Handmaid's Tale is on my Top 10 shelf. It is, in my opinion, the greatest dystopian novel of all time. It is everything you expect from the genre and more. Shocking, terrifying, an unflinching account of a fucking nightmarish scenario that could actually happen.
At the end of The Handmaid's Tale I was left devastated and bereft of words. I loved the ambiguity and found myself never wanting to know what happened to June. I consider this decision by Atwood to be the crowning achievement of the novel.
With The Testaments Atwood took that crown and crushed it beneath her pen.
And nearly took The Handmaid's Tale with it.