The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Honestly, if I could read my A-Level texts and all the further reading I’m supposed to be doing as quickly as I read The Heart Goes Last, I would be sailing out of school with straight A*s. Bought on Sunday, finished on Tuesday. Click boom.

The premise of this one is – you guessed it – a dark dystopia that could happen to us. Well, America. Suffocated to death by a recession and the ensuing chaos, it seems that unless you’re a criminal, you’ll live poor and die quickly. A light at the end of the tunnel is the Positron Project, a model village that sucks Charmaine and Stan in with its promise of stability, community and hot food, but never spits you back out.

It’s a bit like being trapped in Ikea for the rest of your life, but with a prison. A compulsory prison. Terrifying.

Personally, the most interesting aspect of this novel is the fact that the situation is totally plausible. There could be all-encompassing poverty, there could be big businessmen so driven by avarice to start up a similar twisted scheme. I’m just hoping that they haven’t read this book.

Aside from the hideous thought that this could bus us in 25 years, and some of the weird shit that goes on within the prison, I found this book magnetic. Although the writing and description themselves weren’t necessarily beautiful, it was the way in which Atwood can paint someone’s entire life in a few paragraphs, and make your thoughts ebb and flow with theirs. The novel is told from the different perspectives of husband and wife Stan and Charmaine, and what I really loved was how I could tell the difference not only because of the different settings, but also because of the difference in thought and language (Stan has a mouth dirtier than mine, and that’s saying something). Atwood’s skill as a writer is astounding – my favourite is still The Handmaid’s Tale – and The Heart Goes Last is yet another testament to the fact that she can convincingly weave a world that’s disturbingly close to our own.

Final warning: may not be suitable for the under twelves. Not a bedtime story, folks. Lots of expletives. Sex. And intriguing devices called prostibots, which may be my only hope for sexual activity in this lifetime.

Thanks for bearing with, and realising that I’m not dead, just being slowly suffocated by a very big essay with lots and lots on research on Greek tragedy. 

 

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