The Heart Goes Last
by Margaret Atwood (2015)
Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are desperate. When they see an advertisement for Consilience, a social experiment offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. In return for suburban paradise, all they have to do is give up their freedom every second month and swap their home for a prison cell.
If you haven’t read Margaret Atwood before, The Heart Goes Last is not the place to start. As in her more famous works, Handmaid’s Tale and The MaddAdam Trilogy, Atwood takes on themes of violence against women, consumerism, and the dysnfunctionality of modern life, and explores them in a dystopian setting.
Unfortunately, the way they’re presented here feels hackneyed and uninteresting. The prose shows little glimmer of beauty to make up for the bleak, violent world. The second half of Heart Goes Last is a parade of sexual dysfunctions and bedroom melodrama. Sometimes, it’s funny, in a laugh-at-reality-television-and-feel-guilty sort of way. But there are better books to spend time with.
Verdict: go read Atwood’s MaddAdam series instead.
* hardcore Margaret Atwood fans
* gender issues in dystopia
* bleakly funny dysfunctions
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