Book and Series Review: The Handmade’s Tale

In the last year I keep on hearing about the new HBO series that everyone has an opinion about, so I investigated a little bit and I found the root of the story, a book. I put in on my Kindle and keep trying to take some time for it. The time was never there, so I decided to start with the TV series first since I already have the HBO Go subscription. What I’ve seen was not for the weak ones at all, torture, discrimination, a new world where fanatic religions principles rule and lots of blood, watching The Handmade’s Tale is not a way of relaxing at all.

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I might give some spoiler alerts, but will try to keep it high level, the story is revolved around June, a wife, and mother that has seen America fall and transform into Gilead, a new society ruled by men. She tried running away when the new laws were installed but were caught before making it to Canada. She knows nothing of her daughter or husband.

In the new society, the highest in ranks are the commanders who can have wives and are engaged in political matters. Since childbirth is extremely rare and infertility is the main cause, the women that can have kids are trained and sent into the house of commanders to bear children for them. The act is considered religions one, going back to one passage from the Bible, the wives are also taking part by holding the handmade’s hands. Anything considered frivolous is prohibited, being gay is sentenced to death, but so is everything that has to do with science, other religions that the official one and any act against the system.

The women that weren’t apt for giving birth or were involved in frivolous acts in the past are sent to the colonies, where they are forced to work until they are exhausted, get sick and die. Being sent to the colonies is one of the worst punishments as a woman.

After only 3 episodes I was already so angry that I wanted to set the TV on fire, the amount of cruelty and injustice is enough to make anyone mad. So I tried taking a break from the series to try to focus on the book but ended up continuing with both. Even if the series keeps the original script of the book for the first season, I have to say that it added a lot of extra cruel details. The punishment scenes are not described in the book with the same amount of details and maybe it’s the visual effect, but to me, it looks a lot like torture and torture porn.

In a world as unjust as hours, it’s hard to imagine this can be taken to a new level, but even so, this type of preview made me shiver. Lots will think that is a good manner of showing the world what will happen if we don’t fight back, but I think we already have this system, but most of us don’t see it from our windows, we are the wives that take part in the rapping act and consider it for the greater good.

On Earth we still have places where the fanatic religions allow men to kill the unfaithful wives, stoning is still used for public execution. In countries like Thailand, we still have a huge number of kids sex slaves, in Europe, we have lots of women sold on the sex market. The high class still pays surrogate mothers to bear their children and in the poor countries, people are forced to work until exhaustion is extreme conditions for a few dollars a day, not to mention those who will sell their organs to be able to have something to eat. In Africa we still have children die of hunger and thirst. So don’t for a second think that Gilead is not real, it is, but we chose to look the other way.

Even if it’s going to be a tough one to read, I would make the book a mandatory read. It’s important to know what happens when we let ourselves lead by fanatics, it happened in the past and with our new leaders, it might happen again. Also, it’s important for us to know the problems that occur in poor countries and at least to stop encouraging cruelty. As for the series, I still have mixed feelings about it, maybe a bit too visual and cruel, it focuses so much on the violence that I have considered stop watching since it’s a bit too much for me.

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