Monday, October 28, 2019

The Testaments

The Testaments. (The Handmaid's Tale #2) Margaret Atwood. 2019. 422 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive.

Premise/plot: The Testaments is a follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale. It is set many years after the first book, and has three narrators: Aunt Lydia (one of the founding aunts), Daisy/Nicole (a Canadian teenager), and Agnes Jemima (a teenager raised in Gilead). All three have strong opinions on Gilead.

My thoughts: I read The Handmaid’s Tale in August. There was an immediacy to the narrative—a rawness. It was unpolished and packed with suspense. We were seeing Gilead through her eyes—all in the moment. Everything was uncertain. The narratives of The Testaments are the exact opposite. Polished. Removed. Lacking all suspense whatsoever. I have read history books with a more engaging narrative style. (I do love history, by the way.)

I did appreciate the short chapters for the most part. I think I kept a good pace going because the chapters were often short. It certainly wasn’t because I was in suspense and had to know what happened next.

There was one element that I predicted early on in the novel concerning how two of the narratives relate to one another. So essentially there was nothing surprising about the plot.

Does a book need to have plot twists and be suspenseful?! Not necessarily. Character-driven novels can be all about the journey and not the destination. I can easily say that The Handmaid’s Tale was character-driven, premise-driven, plot-driven. It had it all. Was The Testaments character-driven enough to save it? I have a hard time connecting with alternating narrators in general. I think I could have connected with any of the three if it had just been told from her point of view.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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