The Heart Goes Last

I read and loved The Handmaid’s Tale a while ago, so I was excited for The Heart Goes Last, another dystopian piece by Margaret Atwood, published just last year.

The Heart Goes Last is the love story of a couple in a dystopian American future, one ravaged by societal and economic breakdown. It traces their attempts to survive in the wilderness, and how the refuge they stumble upon may be too good to be true.

It isn’t up to the same standard as The Handmaid’s Tale, unfortunately, although it is a good piece of writing. I only found out after I’d finished reading it that it was a serialised piece, subsequently published as a novel. In retrospect, that explains why a lot of the writing feels jumpy and scattered. A few sentences quickly turn the corner on a major logistical change that seems written expressly to get people out of a corner, and the link between character choices and plot progression doesn’t seem particularly strong, although there are a few interesting ones the characters are forced to make.

So all in all, it reads a bit closer to a first draft, certainly compared to something as polished as The Handmaid’s Tale. But even Atwood’s unpolished writing is still strong; worth a read if you enjoy her other pieces. She still deals well with how gender and power impact individual lives, writes compellingly about individual people’s interactions.

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