The Handmaid’s Tale | End Of the World Book Club.


Hoi, and welcome to the very first episode, I guess, of the End of the World Book Club. In case you missed it last month I launched a new series/bookclub: the end of the world book club in which I read a apocalyptic or dystopian book every month. This is pretty much my favourite genre and I just want to read more of it and I want to get you involved as well. So in April I read the Handmaid’s Tale. This is a book that, while reading it I was just amazed by the fact that I hadn’t read this yet because this is so right up my alley and I absolutely loved reading this. This was written in 1985 which I will get back to shortly. First of all, cause of the end of the world in this one: basically controlling society by bringing them back to old fashioned values. Basically creating this state where lots of women lose their bodily autonomy and basically don’t have any rights anymore. Sometimes it genuinely feels like it’s set in the middle ages. And for those of you who haven’t read it, the main character is called Ofred and she lives in the Republic of Gilead. There are these like richer sort of high up families and they get a handmaid which is what Ofred is and basically the fertility has gone down and this is the solution people have come up with. They have these handmaids and every month they have sex with the man of the family in this sort of weird ritual in the hopes that they’ll become pregnant and that’s basically their only way out. First of all the thing that shocked me about this book is that it feels like it could be written like right now; like last year. It is so relevant and when I saw it was written in 1985 I was absolutely shocked, pretty much. I really want to read 1984 now as well because I know sales for that has gone up incredibly and I think it pretty much has the same thing going on where it just seems incredibly relevant at the moment. The narration style of it was very interesting in the way that it’s the story told by Ofred and you’re in the current situation and then as you read the book you discover more and more of the world that was before and how it shifted into this world. You really do get fed little bits and pieces and I really like that. What I especially found interesting in that is seeing how quickly people adjust to things and sort of go ‘okay well there’s nothing we can do about this’ or you know they’re actually being forced and they can’t do anything about this, so that the big changes that are made, one by one, somehow make it possible for in a couple years time to create this whole new society. Things like, you know, women’s money being taken away, credit’s no longer working, not letting any flights go out of the country. It really makes you realize how easy it would be to control people and you think ‘oh something like this could never happen cause there would be a public outrage And I feel like it also lets you see the way we see things happen in the rest of the world The more and more terrible things that happen, there’s so much going on at the same time that you almost feel like it is entirely out of your control and it is, you know, happening somewhere else which is obviously awful, but I feeling like this book really recreates that feeling. And then there is also the fear, something that almost reminds me of what I heard someone explain about people in North Korea, and I guess it’s happened to lots of other places in time where you just begin to think that even your thoughts are being monitored; you can’t really trust anyone around you, you can’t talk to anyone, anyone could be a spy. And it’s a way of keeping people under control even though there might not be as many eyes around but if you feel like anyone could be a spy for the government then there is no one you can trust One of the main characters friends who originally was called Moira is a lesbian and I found it really interesting to see as well the role that the LGBTQ community plays in this book and the way that there is this underground LGBT system because they were basically one of the first people that had to go under and make sure that they were safe. The victim blaming in this is horrifying. The way that all these women when they’re brought together in the red centres where they’re trained to be handmaids are constantly taught to blame themselves for all the terrible things that happened to women It’s horrible to read about. And just a way to make women feel so little and so small and feel like all the bad things that happen in their life is basically their fault and because it’s like the old fashioned values they basically refer back to the Bible a lot and the original sin and stuff like that as well. I think there is no way of getting out of the thought that is ‘how would I respond in a situation like this?’ Ofred obviously sort of finds a way to rebel in her own way and people rebel in different varieties you don’t really know how much they’re rebelling in their own thoughts cause obviously they can’t really talk to each other safely but it always makes you think ‘what would I do in a situation like this?’ Also while I was reading this I just kept thinking this does not seem like the most logical way to keep this species going and to create more babies because loads of people were getting infertile It does just seem like an excuse to keep people down and to control women is just an added bonus. and it’s just a sort of excuse that they’re using. They’re like ‘oh yeah we need to create lots of babies’. And then finally in this book there is the epilogue which I wasn’t expecting, cause you know when you start a book and it’s such a famous one that you have a bit of an idea of what is probably going to be inside of it? The epilogue is something that I hadn’t been told about and I won’t give any spoilers but it really sort of makes you think about how we talk about history and how easy it is to cast aside certain people’s stories and accounts of what happened. And it is just like a terrifying book to read. You read this and you’re like ‘Great, uh well that is horrendous and I could see how this could totally happen’. Hopefully that does inspire the sort of strength to keep engaged with any topics that are related to this and also to fight for them. And I thought about reading loads of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction; it’s probably going to be sad and gloomy. If you guys read The Handmaid’s Tale or if you read it in the past I would absolutely love to hear what you thought. If you have made videos about it or you are planning on making a video about it do use the hashtag endoftheworldbookclub if you would like to and let me know in a comment or sent it to me on twitter and I’ll make sure to add it to a nice playlist. Yesterday I suddenly had the realization that I would have to pick the next book for next month. I was like ‘oh no’ so I came up with some options and let you vote on twitter and the result was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell Now this is quite a popular book. This is the US cover. I think this is slightly post-apocalyptic and also somehow related to a travelling acting troupe that performed Shakespeare. We will discover this and more in May. If you already have a copy of this or if you’re going to buy one feel free to read along. I’m also trying to prep for the rest of the year and I’m making a little list of books that I think would fit into this series but if you have any suggestions do leave them below and that is it for now. I hope you enjoyed it. I am going to start my next book and I will see you soon! Dui!

100 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale | End Of the World Book Club.

  1. Had to read this story in English Literature Class (NL), loved it! There's a movie of it made also, but it's not that good in my opinion.

  2. Two of my favourites in a row :)! Loved the Handmaid's Tale. I re-read it the month for the bookclub and it's even more terrifying now than it was before.

    Station Eleven I read in Feb. I found it quite slow – not in a bad way, just in that it was much more about ideas about humanity / society and characters than it was about events. Interestingly it's a book that months later random bits pop back into my head and make me think of just give me the feels!

  3. Absolutely read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley! and also We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (published in 1924 and definitely inspired books like 1984)

  4. I read The Handmaid's Tale this past month and I was blown away. It was really scary like you said, to think how easy it would be for this to happen right now and I'm looking forward to the TV series, that's next on my list. I have also read Station Eleven and I loved it so I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it!

  5. This makes me want to read the book even more! I've seen the movie version before and am watching the new TV series about it, but I haven't read the book yet. I definitely plan too though! So little time, so much to read 😉

  6. My favorite thing about Handmaids Tale and station 11 is the way they handle time. they both jump between 'now' and 'before ' really effectively.

  7. So so so happy to see this video pop up. The Handmaid's tale is such a fantastic book 🙂 Check out John Wyndham's books particularly the Chrysalids and the day of the triffids. Brave new World is also great!

  8. great video! I read a bit of the handmaid's tale in uni but I need to get through the rest so will do soon. as for suggestions, you NEED to read The Power by Naomi Alderman. it's about what would happen if all women somehow evolved to have electric pulses and so women, for the first time became physically stronger than men and the uprisings that follow…sounds really cheesy but it's great and has been shortlisted for the women's prize for fiction this year 🙂

  9. This book is so good, but also so terrifying. I started reading it right before the US Election, and then had to put it down for quite some time before I could finish. I would be interested to know what your thoughts of the Hulu series of the Handmaid's Tale are. Any thoughts?

  10. I love this bookclub idea! Dystopia is my favorite genre to read but I find it so hard to find books with strong female characters when it comes to dystopia. Can't wait to read Station 11!

  11. I read Handmaid's Tale for my english class this year and that was as the election was happening here in the US, it's crazy timely and a little too freaky to read right now.

  12. This is my favourite genre too, I'm excited that this is now a series! I loved The Handmaid's Tale when I read it years ago but it's even more terrifying reading it now :/ Definitely read 1984, I also recommend The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which was a Russian dystopian novel from the 1920s that Orwell based 1984 off of.

  13. "The host" is a great apocalyptic story. way different than what stephine Myers is know for its not like twilight i swear.

  14. Pretty sure I read Handmaids for the first time in the late 80s for high school Can-lit required. One funny detail that's always stuck with me is that she'd squirrel away butter to use as cream cuz she couldn't get beauty products: wonder how she smelled?
    Makes me think of Tudors using tallow fat for candles and appreciate all the awesome smells we have;)

    But yeah: Atwood rules and all this shit is bloody scary and makes cynical me too jaded and depressed. And determined to fight like hell to keep what we got and not let any liberties go quietly due to apathy. At least I hope so;)

  15. If you haven't read it, I would suggest you to read Blindness by Jose Saramago. It has the atmosphere of the end of the world in and the story in amazing. The plot in short is that blindness becomes a disease than can be passed. One of my favourite of all time!!!

  16. You still haven't read 1984 and have just read The handmaid's tale? I'm so envious of you!;)
    Wonderful hair cut by the way ^^

  17. I've already read this in April and was totally chocked by how it could happen in our society. I've then started the TV show, I have only seen the pilot so far, but Elizabeth Moss and Alexis Bledel are completely amazing in it! You should definitely watch it 🙂
    I've read Station Eleven and it's SOOOOO good! You're going to love it! xx

  18. I love dystopian novels but absolutely hated this book and found Atwoods writing style so clunky! I liked the concept but found so many problems with Atwoods delivery. Seems I'm definitely in the minority with this view judging by the comments though…

  19. Sanneeee
    So nice you made this book club! I was looking to join one for ages, but I never seemed to find one that fits me and this is EXACTLY all the things I love. Also, I am planning on reading The Handmaid's Tale soon AND also the next book, Station Eleven.
    I was wondering, do you have a Goodreads or Facebook group for the book club? It would be so nice to discuss the books!

  20. ah Station Eleven is such an interesting read when you get into all the little stories and themes and start to think, "what if I was in that position?" I hope you enjoy it.

  21. I really liked 1984, it's very creepy. Further I recommend The Uglies series, I didn't like the writing much, but the concepts are so relevant.

  22. Dystopia (and Utopia) is my favorite genre too 🙂 Here's a list of ten dystopian novels in no particular order I highly recommend:

    1. 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradburry – I mean, really, you can't have a dystopia bookclub without the dystopian novel about a world in which books are forbidden 🙂
    2. 'The Trial' by Franz Kafka (probably the single greatest author of the 20th century)
    3. 'Watchmen' by Alan More and Dave Gibbons (often called the best graphic novel of all time)
    4. 'We' by Yevgeny Zamyatin
    5. 'Time Out Of Joint' or 'The Man In The High Castle' (or pretty much anything else) by Philip K. Dick
    6. 'Babylon' aka 'Generation P' (or pretty much anything else) by Viktor Pelevin
    7. 'Neuromancer' (or pretty much anything else) by William Gibson (godfather of cyberpunk)
    8. 'The Stepford Wives' by Ira Levin
    9. '2084: The End Of The World' by Boualem Sansal

    And last but not least:
    10. 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand, a novel which Rand created as her utopian vision, but imo is dystopian; weird how the genre works 🙂

  23. I read The Handmaid's Tale a couple of years ago and this has made me really want to re-read it, I feel like I'm so much more of an angry feminist now that I'd respond to it differently. One suggestion for the book club – We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, I'm half way through it at the mo. It's about a dystopian totalitarian state that everyone is soooo indoctrinated into, interesting to read from the perspective of a protagonist that really struggles to unlock himself from the brainwashing.

  24. I'm not that shocked The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985 though, that was in the middle of the neocon revolution of Thatcher and Reagan plus some years after the Iranian Islamic revolution.

  25. I was on holiday with a group of friends when I read this book last month, and when I read the Ceremony part I was so shocked that I had to run to the friend who had already read the book, but when I got to her I just looked at her and the only thing I could say was, what the hell is this?! This book was so shocking and very real to me, it really is one of the best books I've read so far.

  26. My favourite genre as well!! And by coincidence I've just read this book this month haha :). I loved it. I have to admit that I found the beginning of the book very hard to get in to because things did just not make sense to me and the language was quite difficult.I was so surprised by the epilogue, it was so different from books I've read before. Very nice!

  27. My suggestion would be The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. It is such a great dytopian novel (there's also a sequel) and I don't know how I had never heard of such a great author before. Definitely put it on your list!
    Station Eleven quickly became one of my favorite books after reading it. So good!

  28. I agree, the ending threw me at first, but it was a good book. I wanted more information, but I think in this case, that just means it was well written.

  29. I completely agree about how the book seems like it was written in this day and age. I am listening to the book on audible, very interested to see how the show turns out as well!! I am excited for more recommendations on dystopian novels, seems like it may be my thing👌🏻

  30. I really enjoyed writing an essay in which I compared the effect of the epilogues in both The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 on the novels as a whole and the messages they deliver. There is definitely much more substance in the epilogues than I had thought after the first read through!

  31. I was spoiled about the ending because I was doing research on the dystopian genre as a whole and I just read it and was like '… what'.

  32. Subscribed because I like to hear about books that I should be reading. More to life than just reading computer manuals and computer books.

  33. I've read the HMT and it's by far one of my favourite dystopian books. I felt like I could connect to the characters on an emotional level and fits well with the context of Trump introducing the abortion act.

    I really recommend:
    – The Road
    – Children of Men
    – 1984
    – We

  34. 3:20–3:30 Reminds me of a French philosopher Michel Foucoult who wrote about Panopticon – a special type of prison with a guard tower in the middle. Even though prisoners do not know if there is a guard inside, the very idea that there might be keeps them under control. Foucoult also talks how this idea works in our modern society – really recommend to read it!

  35. Love you and love this book but the incredible amount of jump cuts in this video was so distracting!

  36. THE TV SERIES IS SO GOOD TOO. It's like, reading it I forgot when it was set. Watching it I'm like OH SHIIIT. Next read The Crysalids! So good!

  37. SPOILERS AHEAD!

    I also read this in the last month, and although I had a general idea of what happened before I started it, I didn't know all the details. When I started reading it, I kept expecting Offred to run away and join up with the resistance, but when I was about 3/4 of the way through the book, I realized that that probably wasn't going to happen. Then this idea I had in my head about how this book would be a message of hope, with a resistance to an oppressive regime, etc, kind of fell apart. Although she did end up doing basically that, we didn't get to read about it except in the epilogue. Without an escape or a resistance, the book ended up being very bleak and depressing. (I mean this in a good way, though, a dystopian novel shouldn't be all sunshine). I also realized that this book is basically a combination of Brave New World (from the perspective of the men) and 1984 (from the perspective of the women). The men know that women are oppressed, but since it doesn't affect them directly, they largely ignore it, or at least accept it, just like the Alphas in Brave New World. And the women are basically living 1984, with the government surveillance and all.

  38. Love this book club! Ah Handmaidens Tale is wonderful and I was so surprised how relevant it felt too. I just read 1984 last month too and it definitely does haha. I am actually really enjoying the TV show too!

  39. Such a good book, the new tv series for it is great as well! Margaret Atwood makes an appearance in the first episode! Station eleven was another favourite as well, hope you enjoy it!

  40. I listened to the handmaids tale and also was surprised by the epilogue. I think the thing that makes it all feel so real is the way rape culture is so prevalent in our culture today. How victim blaming and brushing things under the rug constantly puts women down. It's not a big stretch to see how the actions in this book could come about sometime soon:/

  41. The Handmaid's Tale is a fab book. If you're looking for something similar yet probably unlike anything you've read before I'd highly recommend The Bees by Laline Paull. It's much like a cross between The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 but set in a beehive. Wonderful read!

  42. I loved hearing your thoughts on this book! I really enjoyed it and just uploaded a video with my own thoughts on it 🙂 Looking forward to reading Station Eleven! x

  43. Really astute review! Its terrifying how quickly people adjusted to it all. Can't wait to read the next one with you 🙂

  44. Currently listening to it on audible so well written, watching the series when I'm finished

  45. I'm on page 200 right now and it is freaking me out so much considering how things are going in the U.S. right now

  46. It's very post-modernist and I can appreciate looking at it through that particular lens of literature.

  47. I've picked up The Handmaid's Tale recently. Super, super creepy so far! Can't wait for the show to finally make it to the UK. 🙂

  48. Just about to start the Atwood in a buddy-read with one of my graduating students. Not sure how I haven't read it before… I also teach 1984 each year and it's clearly a student favorite every time.

  49. The Handmaid's Tale was our book club pick in November and Station Eleven is our pick for this August!

  50. Station Eleven was one of my favorite books of 2015! You're going to really enjoy it 🙂 Can't wait to hear your review!

  51. Almost done with this!!! I have so many thoughts on it and don't even know where to start 😭 great video!

  52. I read the book for my AP English class during my senior year of high school. I loved analyzing the story, as it's such a complex environment.

  53. I read this book for college a few years ago, but I missed the whole LGTBQI folks having to go underground. Hmmm. I must re-read.

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  55. Love this book club idea! And The Handmaid's Tale is so good. I might get on board with Station Eleven, heard so many great things about it!

  56. I just began reading it and I'm finding it a little big difficult to understand what's happening in the first few chapters. any tips?

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  59. I put off watching this video until I finished The Handmaid's Tale myself and I finished it yesterday. Honestly, it feels so possible in this sociopolitical climate. It's scary. I loved the story and I absolutely adored the writing but tbh it may have made me super paranoid… Also I listened to it on audiobook, read by Claire Danes, and I honestly think it's the best audiobook experience I've ever had. I'm so excited to do a review of it on my channel soon!!!

  60. I read this book as part of my language and literature course for A levels and something that's stayed with me is in the flashback where the word mayday is explained and just the way that it gives the translation "help me" on a new line without fully specifying that it's just a translation of the phrase above… it stuck with me, Atwood's use of language is just so amazing

  61. yes! i thought the sense of paranoia is one of the strongest things in this book. The commander is orchestrating these private liaisons and while she has something on him, but who is to say that was enough to convince him not to give her away? because of her gender and class, no one would really believe her if she did reveal anything truly. she walked the same route with ofglen countless times barely breathing a word to each other, each one equally miserable but even that much more suspicious of the other. You really felt like no one could be trusted in this book- for me not even offred.
    When I read the passage about Moira's first attempt at escape and it had gone awry I was bracing to turn the page and read about how offred turned her in out of fear of being without her oldest friend. When she was becoming complacent sneaking around at night with Nick and ofglen tried to appeal to her and she was flippant I was almost sure she was prepping to rat out ofglen.

  62. I am doing this book at college English Literature and I loved reading it! Reminds me a lot of George Orwell as you have stated with the similarity to 1984.

  63. I'm currently reading The Invasion of the Tearling and some parts of it (pre-Crossing) remind me a lot of the Handmaid's Tale. Anyone else notices that?

  64. I'd like to think I'd be like Moira and fight my way out but in reality I would probably be like Janine and do what I'm told so I can live. I loved the book, it's so scary how possible it is that this could be become reality.

  65. I haven't read the book nor watched the tv series.
    Everything can be taken away from everyone not just from women, from men too, look at Venezuela.
    I think we are being controlled already, not by making lots of babies but by brainwashing women to think they can kill their babies and that nothing bad will happen, then comes depression and the cycle continues. In fact departing from bible values is what keeps people down, kills society, keeps people in poverty. Thinking that everything goes is the death of family, the death of society. Strange how this easy literature can brain wash women of this day and age.

  66. If you like the loss of fertility plot also read the James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon) short story Houston Houston, Do You Read?

  67. After just finishing Origin by Dan Brown, I'm now ready for Handmaids Tale which was a Xmas present from my Mom. After watching you're review I'm looking forward to it. My only question is, should I read 1984 before this Novel ?

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