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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 37/100: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last: A Novel (Positron) - Margaret Atwood

Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #48: A Dystopia

Don't be discouraged by the fact that this book took me five months to read -- I was reading it on my Kindle, which is pretty much the "slow lane" to my book traffic. (I usually only read it in waiting rooms.) The writing style is accessible and it could be a "fast read," although it's up for debate whether it might be considered "light."

Like most of Atwood's dystopias, this one is thick with social commentary, particularly as regards to sex roles and the consumer packaging of sex. One of my friends gave up on the book halfway in because she felt like there was "too much weird sex stuff," and while uncomfortable in places, it is not purely gratuitous. The book is more dark satire than pure dystopia, so it calls for some suspension of disbelief as relates to the actual premise and the society that Atwood sets up. Atwood is making a point, not showing off her worldbuilding skills.

Still, while the men and women who populate this novel may read like caricatures at times, they are also uncomfortably recognizable. Stan and Charmaine are "average" folk who blunder into a surreal and twisted world during a time of desperation, and the piece ultimately ends up being a strange examination of marriage that manages to be both jaded and strangely hopeful.

I wouldn't recommend this as a first introduction to Atwood, as you almost need to have some familiarity with her work to take this one in context. But if you've enjoyed her in the past and don't mind a little humor in your dystopia or some major darkness in your comedy, you'll probably find this to be a satisfying enough addition to the Atwood science fiction canon.