The Handmaid's Tale is set in a dystopian future, in which women have little to no power. Reproduction rates are low and Handmaid's are used to procure a child in the even that a commanders wife is unable to. Sex is passionless. There is no love.
The rules they live by are rigid and strict, not just for Handmaids but for society as a whole. Penalty for breaking rules can result in death. This futuristic society is disturbing to say the very least.
The story is told by a woman who goes by the name, Offred. Her story is told in "real' time and in flashbacks, that allow you to see the change that society has undergone. You learn about her past, her life with her husband and child.
Atwood develops astonishing characters and a society that leaves you feeling... chilled and unnerved.
Women are seen as property and have defined rules. It is frightening. The government controls everything. The oppressiveness is captured brilliantly.
If you are into dystopian novels, add this to your list of must read.
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