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The Heart Goes Last: A Novel Paperback – August 9, 2016
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“Captivating. . . . Thrilling. . . . Margaret Atwood [is] a living legend.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Quintessential Atwood. . . . The writing here is so persuasive, so crisp, that it seeps under your skin.” —The Boston Globe
“An arresting perspective on the confluence of information, freedom, and security in the modern age.” —The New Yorker
“A gripping, psychologically acute portrayal of our own future gone totally wrong, and the eternal constant of flawed humanity.” —Huffington Post
“Dystopia virtuoso Margaret Atwood turns her effortless world-building, deft humor and grim commentary on the depths of human hubris to the prison industrial complex, love and free will.” —The Denver Post
“Rare apocalyptic entertainment. . . . Not only does Atwood sketch out an all-too-possible future but she also looks to the past, tapping into archetypes from fairy tales and myth, giving the novel a resonance beyond satire.” —The Miami Herald
“Another Atwood classic.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Poignant. . . . Gloriously madcap. . . . You only pause in your laughter when you realise that, in its constituent parts, the world she depicts here is all too horribly plausible.” —The Guardian (London)
“Engrossing.” —The Austin Chronicle
“Wonderful. . . . Explores the idea of a powerful system and its discontents. . . . Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last is a riveting addition to her oeuvre.” —Electric Literature
“Atwood’s creepy but entertaining vision of a possible future.” —The Washington Times
“Fast-paced and funny. . . . True love ultimately endures in The Heart Goes Last, but so do the real terrors present in Atwood novels, all too often manifesting in ours.” —PopMatters
“Eerily prophetic. . . . A heady blend of speculative fiction with noir undertones that is provocative, powerful and will prompt all readers to reassess which parts of their humanity are for sale.” —BookPage
“Ever-inventive, astutely observant, and drolly ironic, Atwood unfurls a riotous plot. . . . This laser-sharp, hilariously campy, and swiftly flowing satire delves deeply into our desires, vices, biases, and contradictions, bringing fresh, incisive comedy to the rising tide of postapocalyptic fiction . . . in which Atwood has long been a clarion voice.” —Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and her most recent, MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.
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Top Customer Reviews
A wacked, absurd, comical novel that becomes obvious satire as the novel continues. As I read this book, I initially took it very seriously, trying to connect with the characters, understand motives, etc. However, by the end with the sexbots, possibilibots, Elvises and Marilyns it became obvious that the book is entirely satirical and meant to be comical. It also serves as a cautionary tale of “be careful what you wish for.” Having someone who loves you only because she has had the laser treatment may not be so fulfilling and rewarding in the end. Perhaps loving someone so completely is easier if you think you’ve had a brain surgery to make you do so.
I was so excited to embark on this novel after reading the premise: a couple destitute in this futuristic world decides to sign up for “Consilience,” a social experiment, where you spend alternate months in a prison and in a home with stable jobs within the confines of Positron. Their relationship becomes strange and a whole lot of sex ensues, none of which is really sexy. Their freedoms have been lost by joining this program and they have seemingly signed their own personalities away as well. They become different, much more superficial in their needs and wants. It’s almost as if having decisions made for them is appreciated, especially on Charmaine’s part.
In sum, I enjoyed the initial unravelling of the exciting premise. This segued to the drudgery of the mid-section where the characters are acting like robots and no one is very likable, and finally to the last portion which is an overwhelmingly satirical picture of the future where no one is happy having an ordinary relationship or partner, but instead seeks out a paid or modified companion.
I’m a big fan of Margaret Atwood. This is the 7th novel of hers that I’ve read and maybe my 6th or 7th favorite of them all. She’s an excellent writer and this is humorous/chilling social commentary, but I didn’t connect with it as well as I have some of her other novels.
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Still, I found humor and pathos in The Heart Goes Last. And, as usual when reading Atwood, my brain couldn't help but accelerate into the murky stratosphere of the future: when the reckoning comes, for whatever course we've set ourselves on, what will become of us? And what will we mere humans do to survive in a repugnant cosmic stewpot of our own making?
Keep writing, Maggie! You inspire, enlighten, dazzle and comfort all at once.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's certainly a highly readable book—a pageturner of sorts. And it starts off with an interesting premise: Stan and Charmaine, a homeless couple living out of their car, accept an opportunity to take part in an experiment that promises to solve unemployment and crime and provide people with a meaningful life. Once they sign that contract, they'll live out the rest of their lives in a gated community with everything they need...the only catch is that they have to spend every other month in the community's prison system.
What begins as a compelling commentary on the prison industrial complex and the inevitable downsides of utopian societies goes completely off the rails halfway through and devolves into something else entirely. In fact, at times it's hard to believe you're still reading the same story.
It seems like Atwood came into this with lots of really interesting disparate ideas that she wasn't able to converge into a cohesive narrative. Or maybe not...maybe she just wanted to write something completely out there.
As a full novel, if didn't really work for me. And it didn't help that the final quarter was way too drawn out. Also worth mentioning is that the characters of Stan and Charmaine behaved in ways that were frustratingly inconsistent with my understanding of them.
I don't know. It's honestly amazing to me that the same person who wrote The Handmaid's Tale wrote this.