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!