Book Review

Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes LastThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher: Bloomsbury

dystopia, science fiction

This was a very strange and interesting book. I don’t know that I have ever encountered so much fetish sex and slapstick comedy in one book.

Stan and Charmaine are living in a car, trying to survive a crashed economy. They are trying to maintain their pride and dignity. Neither of them is doing anything criminal… not yet, anyway. And then Positron, a corporate prison provides the solution to all of their problems. Employment, food, a respectable life… for 6 months out of the year. Every other month they rotate between being prisoners and “civilians” living in a house as a couple, though they aren’t ever allowed to leave Positron or communicate with the outside world.

With this false sense of security, they each begin straying from each other in mind and action. They both get entwined in a mostly sick, sometimes comedic plot to get out of Positron and out of what is increasingly revealed to be a really bad decision. Sex bots? Woman-on-blue knitted teddy bear action? Oh yes, this book has it all!

Atwood’s writing here has a very distinct style. So much so that I asked my English teacher sister-in-law about it. Turns out she was (QUITE HEAVILY) employing a style called free indirect discourse where the narrators words convey the inflection or feelings of the character about which they speak. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it distracting, but it was definitely noticeable and I was wondering if her other work that I have a read in the past was similar.

Not a feel good book in the slightest (but then again, it is Atwood), it did make me think a lot about the thin line that separates us from animal. A major theme is mirage. How much people are willing to sacrifice for a skin deep sense of security. Stan and Charmaine were living in a car but they were working together to stay alive. Once they get into Positron and have the house with the white picket fence, they are at each other’s throats and screwing around on each other. The ending is another example of this though I won’t talk about that here.

I won’t be reading this one again, but it certainly kept me asking, what the hell is going on with this book?! I laughed. I felt sick to my stomach. It was certainly a roller coaster.

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