Stunning Mar 18, 2008
This is one of the first books I read as I began to move on from the realms of young adult fiction. As such, it was the first time I encountered such distinct stylization, and I had no problem absorbing it, although I know other people have reported discomfort with Atwood's style.
Offred's narration starkly conveys her numbness and clearly displays her coping strategy, which is to get through one day at a time as she attempts to fend off a deluge of overhwhelming memories of normal times. The tone of the book is startingly immediate, which gives the flashback segments a dreamlike quality. This is an interesting reversal, where the bizarre totalitarian society in which Offred lives feels more realistic than the descriptions of her previous life, which was as normal as any contemporary American woman's.
I would recommend this with no reservations, except to say that for some, Atwood's work may be an acquired taste. Take it on its own terms, not as some call to arms or some manifesto on women's liberation. It merely takes one facet of life and spins it to an extreme alternate future in the spirit if "imagine if..."