Book Review: The Heart Goes Last


ashley | I have always loved Margaret Atwood’s writing. When I read some of her earlier work in high school, it opened me up to some really unique ideas that my small town self hadn’t really considered before. I’ve always found her writing complex and thorough, not necessarily light, but always enriching. I was happy to learn that The Heart Goes Last was unique in its own right, but fit right in along Atwood’s previously enjoyed works.

I didn’t know much about this going in, but within the first few chapters, I was totally captured by the concept. I thought it was just such a unique situation to really put the character of these characters to the test and I was really eager to see where things would go and how these people would react. I also really loved how one person’s secrets influenced the other’s reality without either of them knowing. It was just so clever!

I was a bit annoyed with Stan in the beginning of the book, though. He sets his hyperfocus on his alternate, Jasmine, and concocts a brilliant plan to run into her on Switchday. His words are very stalker-y, very rape-y, and they did not sit well with me at all! But to my surprise, it was Charmaine that I ended up being super annoyed with in the end. I really didn’t like her character at all. So gullible, so naively trusting. She had no backbone and was just a mouldable pawn in everyone else’s game.

As a whole, The Heart Goes Last was littered with dystopian warnings; Atwood does what she does best by building a story that stands beyond being just a story. It’s not really about what is happening to the characters, but more what these characters witness in the change of their society. What they are coerced to do for overall survival and what others do when driven by greed and power and possession. It’s actually a very scary book, along the lines of Brave New World or 1984, where governing authorities try to pull a utopian veil over the dark dictatorship they’ve created.

I actually didn’t like the ending much though, if I’m being honest here. Or really, the whole second part of the book. I liked how it all came together and how all the actions were putting a bigger plan into play, but the very end of it, I just didn’t like what is presented. It was almost like the tone of all of this shifted, that scary governmental plot of our future turned into kind of an oversexed mockery of society. On its own maybe that would have been fine, but I got a significantly different feel in the start – and maybe by my own mistake, I get a more serious sense from Atwood as a writer by principal – and the direction this ended up going in just kind of fell flat for me in the end.

I was hoping for a big climactic stick-it-to-the-government ending, but that was just kind of overshadowed by sexbots and imprinting and then once everything was exposed, it was like everyone was fine with it and everything went back to normal in a society that had been in shambles at the very start. That just didn’t make sense to me and was a bit of a letdown.


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september 29, 2015