Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
September 26, 2015 2 Comments
Doubleday (publisher) says: “Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes.
At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one’s head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan’s life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.”
The Heart Goes Last: What I thought
Let’s start on the outside: a beautiful cover! Do you agree? This kind of cover, simple but colorful, is so inviting!
I am not a huge Margaret Atwood fan, but I was keen to read this new novel, as it sounded very interesting. I’ve read a few of Atwood’s books, and loved them, but I also read one or two that I found impossible to get through. The science fiction ones, I love: The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood.
The Heart Goes Last reminded me to some extent of The Year of the Flood, because of the crazy things that are happening. I read the book in a weekend because it’s was near-unputdownable, but some of the crazy things were a little too crazy for my liking. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis sex dolls? And changing one’s brain for…well, I won’t spoil it for you. But this went a little too far for me. Luckily, this only appeared in the latter half of the book, and I devoured the beginning like chocolate cake.
But okay, what is the book really about? That’s a different story altogether! It’s about freedom and perceived freedom. When we first meet Stan and Charmaine, they are living in their car. They can go wherever they want, as long as they have money for petrol, but leaving their car is not advisable most of the time, because of all the violent people outside. Stan and Charmaine are extremely poor and when they get the opportunity to start a new life, they don’t hesitate and take it. However, this means being permanently locked up in a gated community, where they have to spend half of the time in prison and the other live a ‘normal’ life. Now they have all they need, in return for their freedom. Are they better off?
When they make mistakes and get in trouble, it’s time to find a way out. They discover that the system they live in is not what it seemed, and strange things are going on. In the end, Charmaine discovers that her mind sometimes limits her freedom when her circumstances don’t. That was quite an interesting discovery!
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Number of pages: 308
First published: 2015
I got this book: from my Penguin Random House representative for an honest review
Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction