Book Review: The Testaments

I feel more than the average amount of self-imposed pressure to capture this novel in enough detail to entice you to give it a read. This book is probably one of the most anticipated sequels in recent years. In 1985, I was a high school sophomore, and this book wasn’t yet assigned reading in our English class, but I remember checking it out from the library as I was a fresh entrant into the adult side of our small town library branch.
I bought my copy of The Testaments, last Tuesday, on release day and had it sent straight to my Kindle. I started it in spurts until Friday morning, then I read for my two-hour flight and then again on my flight home Sunday night. Since then, I caught up with homeschooling, my real job, and have not been able to get the new images of Gilead out of my thoughts. I try not to read any other reviews until after I’ve written mine, but I did happen a couple of snippets where readers complain this book isn’t needed, that Ms. Atwood should have left well enough alone.
I disagree. As a storyteller, sometimes the characters you write aren’t done telling their story. She certainly has had enough time to consider this book and decided that a part two/conclusion was needed. I’m sure that the Hulu TV adaptation prodded her along. I know that if it were my story, I would want to get the ending out there. If the producers ignore it, so be it, but she knows she tried.
Anyhow, should you read this story? Me: Shrugs I say yes. I gave it all the stars on Goodreads. I loved the original book, I love the TV adaptation, I’ve watched a ton of interviews with Ms. Atwood, and I like her too. These books are not straight science fiction or dystopian. She takes facts of our society and then bumps it up a notch. It’s all plausible which makes it so much of a page-turner.
The Testaments are told in a rotating narrative by chapter. Aunt Lydia tells her story, you get a good sense of how Gilead has changed since that van door closed on Offred and you even get more than a bit on Baby Nichole who by now is almost grown. You see life in Canada and Gilead in the I’m guessing 15 or 16 years that have elapsed.
I feel like fans get the full closure this time and at eighty years old Ms. Atwood still knows how teenage girls fell and act. I see that it is shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, so I’m not the only one who enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply