Book Reviews

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THE TESTAMENTS

by MARGARET ATWOOD

The Testaments is a wonderfully written thought provoking sequel. It is both sequel, to the 35 year old novel,  and crossover, to the currently running Hulu series. The combination of crafts is enthralling. Atwood started writing The Testaments prior to Hulu launching their series. She's an executive producer on the show, and is in contact with its showrunner. In an interview in The Atlantic, Atwood states the goal [of the show and her sequel] "is not to do anything that directly contradicts something the other person has done, or might want to do [in the story]." Even naming Offred's children was a collective effort, the TV show picked Agnes and Atwood chose Nicole.

This combined effort in storytelling is essential Atwood, she's written a serialized novel, wrote the first novel for the Future Library and she is telling a story across mediums allowing others to expand stories within her world. The Handmaid's Tale is fascinating, but this new storytelling is inspiring.

The reader is given a lot of attention in The Testaments. One of the narrators addresses the reader quite directly and often, asking questions about what a novel is worth if it is not read. The role of the reader breathes life into the work. The reader holds the power to destroy the work, through flame or apathy.

The question of the book is to ask its reader what role they would play in this society. We would not all be handmaids. We would be wives, we would be aunts, we would be Marthas. Would we be complicit to survive? Would we rather die on a wall for our rebellion? It is easy to read a work and separate yourself from its characters, holding them at arms length. Atwood's narrators grab you and make you a part of this story.

Books

MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION
by OTESSA MOSHFEGH

This was an excellent book, be forewarned, it is dreary. The title and book jacket should divest potential readers from the hopes of this novel containing a page turning action packed plot. The main character - wait is she a nameless narrator? - decides to hibernate for a year in hopes of recovering from grief.

There is a certain amount of tension built by placing the year long story in New York, June 2000.

The novel avoids being overly morose and manages to illustrate how people numb themselves to pain, be that the extreme of a year long drug induced hibernation, or more run of the mill ways like drinking too much or armoring one's self with clothes.

The narrator’s friend, Reva, plays the straight man to the extreme behavior of the narrator - she is unnamed, I checked. Reva and our narrator are asking themselves the same questions about their post collegiate lives, but are going about finding the answers in different ways. Sometimes you want to experience life and sometimes you want to run away.

The novel is well crafted, well written and well executed, leaving the reader with an appreciation for not giving up and for living fully awake.

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