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Book Review: The Testaments

So this week was a doozey work wise, hence the late book review! But on a happier note, this week's book was AMAZING! But more on that later!

If you need a refresher on why I'm doing a weekly book review, check it out here!

So, with no more ado, here is my review of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood!

The Testaments begins 15 years after the events of the novel The Handmaid's Tale (and yes, I would recommend reading that one first!). The novel follows three women, Aunt Lydia, Agnes Jemima, and Daisy. The novel begins with Aunt Lydia, one of the leaders of Gilead, realizing that the country is corrupt, and knowing she will either destroy it or be destroyed by it.

Also in Gilead Agnes Jemima loses her mother, and her stepmother is cruel to her. Agnes begins to retreat inside herself, fearing the day she will be married to one of the Commanders in Gilead. He schooling teaches her how to be a perfect wife, but not how to read and write, since this will give women inappropriate ideas.

In Canada, Daisy is days away from turning 16. Her parents run a used clothes store, and forbid her from doing lots of things. She soon ignores her parents, and goes to an anti-Gilead rally, which becomes a riot and she is seen on tv.

Soon, Daisy's parents are killed in an explosion, and Daisy is taken in by Mayday, a group that smuggles women out of Gilead. They reveal to Daisy that they have a source inside Gilead, and they plan on sneaking her in to retrieve the information.

Back in Gilead, Agnes is set to marry a man who has had seven previous wives, all of whom died from mysterious sicknesses. Knowing she was afraid of marrying, Aunt Lydia approaches her with the idea of training to become an Aunt. The Aunts help teach the young women of Gilead and are not allowed to get married. Agnes accepts and begins her training.

Soon, Daisy is smuggled into Gilead as a Pearl Girl, a convert to Gilead's faith. There she meets Agnes, who has been training for nine years, and is close to become an Aunt herself.

Someone begins sneaking Agnes secrets about people in Gilead inside the pages of her books. Agnes soon learns that Gilead is corrupt. One day, someone sneaks Agnes the file on her family. She learns she was born from a Handmaid, and that Daisy is her half-sister, and the infamous Baby Nicole, who was stolen away from Gilead.

Aunt Lydia soon reveals herself to be the contact, and after giving Daisy/Nicole the information to destroy Gilead, sneaks them out of Gilead. The girls soon land in Canada, and pass along the information to Mayday. The novel ends with Gilead's destruction and with Daisy/Nicole and Agnes finally meeting their mother.

I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan! So, I was super excited when I heard she was finally writing a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale 35 years after its publication! And The Testaments did not disappoint. It helped to flesh out the character of Aunt Lydia, and shows what happened to Offred/June's daughter from The Handmaid's Tale. While I thought The Handmaid's Tale was an excellent stand-alone novel, The Testaments helps fill in some of the questions we were left with.

I thought all three characters were perfectly developed. Atwood gave each woman the right amount of space to grow and develop across the space of the novel. I loved getting more information on Aunt Lydia (her backstory is fascinating!) since she was the bad guy in The Handmaid's Tale. This novel cast her in a total different light and I liked seeing her cast as the hero instead. I liked the juxtaposition between Daisy and Agnes. While they are sisters, their upbringings made them two totally separate people. It was interesting to see how Gilead shaped Agnes, and Canada shaped Daisy.

I loved the setting. Gilead has always been a fascinating place, and I think The Testaments helped to really flesh that world out. We got a little bit more of an in-depth look into the social structure established in The Handmaid's Tale. It was fun going back to Gilead after all this time!

I give The Testaments by Margaret Atwood an enthusiastic 5 out of 5! It was the perfect sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, and totally worth the 35 year wait!

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