Somehow, describing this as the ‘long-awaited sequel’ doesn’t quite cover it. I’ve had this on preorder for MONTHS. As I’m sure you know, The Testaments is the follow up to the enormously successful, and worryingly prophetic, Handmaid’s Tale – the story of a dystopic America, where a huge swathe of the country is under the control of a totalitarian government that has removed the rights of woman to exist as individuals. (Seriously, if you’ve never heard of this book then I think you may be on the wrong blog).
The Testaments carries on a few years after the last book left off, delving deeper into the world of Gilead from the point of view of women living within it, and outside. It’s not the same literary horror story we saw in the first instalment (or indeed, the tv series), so I don’t think it carries the same shock value I remember from reading The Handmaid’s Tale, though now I get less of a sense of ‘this could happen!’ and more of a sense of ‘I think it already has.’
The writing is much lighter, with less of the literary flair we saw in June’s account of her life as a handmaid. What does come across is the hypocrisy of the entire Gilead setup, and the sense that many of the original characters (Aunt Lydia in particular) are perhaps just as much victims as the handmaids; they were just better survivors.
Yup, I’m getting to this one really late. The movie was a sci-fi classic, the TV series … not so much. Having seen both when I was a kid, I didn’t think there was much point in reading the book, until it won the Alternative Booker Prize held by the Reading Writers Group. I’d made one of those private vows you see: to read every entry before Christmas. The first one was Perfume, and now, Logan’s Run …
The story is set in the distant future. After an uprising by the world’s youth, the old order finds itself overthrown, and in most cases, executed. Recognising that they still need to tackle the problem of overpopulation, the teenagers running the planet hit on a rather novel solution: there is enough for everyone, as long as no one lives past the age of twenty-one.
And so we meet Logan. Logan is a Sandman, and his job is to hunt down ‘runners’: that despised section of the population who don’t agree with being put to sleep before they’ve even lived, and so try to escape to a place called Sanctuary.
Logan’s very good at his job, right up until the day he hits twenty-one …
Now those of you who’ve seen the film may be thinking, ‘Twenty-one? I thought LastDay came when you hit thirty.’
Yes, that was for the movies, and there was a reason why the studios changed it.
A superhero series with a difference: the superheroes, while being ‘super’, aren’t really ‘heroes’. In this story, this crew of overpaid, self-absorbed, drug-addicted, over-sexed, and to be honest, borderline psychotic meta-humans are run by a global, morally bankrupt corporation who keep the billions rolling in with toys, comic books, movie franchises and some fairly dodgy endorsements (chocolate breakfast cereals?). But the whole scheme begins to unravel when one of the ‘supes’ accidentally kills a bystander …