My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A worthy successor to The Handmaid’s Tale. Before reading, I had assumed The Testaments would be a thin, exploitive cash grab designed to capitalize on the current popularity of the Hulu series and the dystopian zeitgeist. I was wrong. The Testaments is an unusual sequel in that it adds moral complexity and texture to the original work while standing proudly on its own. You don’t have to read The Handmaid’s Tale to enjoy The Testaments, but you definitely should.
The Testaments is essentially a caper story told from three perspectives, giving nuance to the way the reader understands Gilead. The novel also places Gilead into an international context, which was something I found myself wanting in the original story.
I waved my way through an occasional minor plot hole and, as with The Handmaid’s Tale, the story ends a bit too abruptly. These are minor gripes. The Testaments satisfies.
Atwood’s ability to tell big, philosophically challenging stories through the closely observed private lives of authentic characters is inspiring. Atwood never sacrifices the personal to reach the universal.
This sequel is as good as the first.