Book Review – The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
Book: The Heart Goes Last
Author: Margaret Atwood
Year of Release: 2015
Read 308-page hardcover edition in January 2017.
In a near future where unemployment has skyrocketed and crime is everywhere, Charmaine and Stan are living in their car, with Charmaine working a menial job as a waitress in a shady bar to make just enough money to eek out a living. Stan and Charmaine both wish their lives were better, but the economy has fallen apart.
When an opportunity knocks to join a pilot project, where you share a house with another couple, and each of you takes turns, one month in your house, then one month in prison, they jump at the chance. Promises of a better life and stable work and comforts are too good to pass up.
But when they are in the closed community, Charmaine and Stan start to see their lives unraveling, and how the project was not what they intended.
This dystopian novel by the talented Canadian author Margaret Atwood was a fascinating read. The main characters Charmaine and Stan were interesting to learn about, particularly in the opening sections of the novel. Atwood did a nice job of allowing the reader to really get into each of the main character’s minds early on, and get a sense of who they were, and what they were thinking. We also got the treat of hearing thoughts they each had about their relationship and sex, which they didn’t share with their spouse. These insights were fascinating in looking at how the married couple was dealing with difficult situations of the near future.
The main characters, along with other characters in the pilot project, were definitely interesting, as we got to know them. However, one downside was that at times it felt the characters were not necessarily consistent. For example, Charmaine seems very kind, calm, and even somewhat simple at the beginning of the novel. However, later on she finds herself in a job where she is committing all kinds of actions that one doesn’t necessarily see her character carrying out in the beginning. For example, her relationship with a man she meets in the project, and her job in the prison, both seem surprising departures from what we know about her at the beginning of the novel.
Overall, the plot of the novel was exciting, and the pacing of the novel made it a fast read. There were lots of great themes to consider in this dystopian future created by Atwood. Although at times the characters did not always feel consistent, overall this was an interesting read for those who enjoyed dystopian literature.
Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars