Review: The Heart Goes Last

Book Title: The Heart Goes Last

Book Author: Margaret Atwood

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Expected Publication: September 29, 2015

Synopsis: “Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

I’m a little unclear on the details, but from what I understand, this book began as several short stories by Atwood that have been re-edited and are going to be published together in one volume in September.  I have not read any of the short stories, so I cannot comment on those, but this comprehensive volume was an overall enjoyable read.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is my first time reading anything by Margaret Atwood.  The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my “To be Read” list for ages now, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

After a catastrophic financial collapse leaves a significant percentage of Americans without jobs, Charmaine and Stan are forced to leave their home and live in their car. They get by with the small income that Charmaine makes from her bartending job, but with crime at an all time high they are never really safe.  With nowhere to go and no better prospects, the young married couple is stuck in a seemingly never ending cycle of “just getting by”.  But when the pair hears of Consilience, a safe and comfortable place to live and work, it seems like an opportunity that they cannot pass up.  Never mind the fact that they have to voluntarily report to prison every other month while they live in this otherwise idyllic community. The two quickly sign up to join the community, and you may be able to guess, it really is too good to be true.

As much as I love a good dystopian, I have been steering away from the genre lately.  What can be done that hasn’t been done before?  I didn’t feel that The Heart Goes Last was ground-breaking or anything, but it did feel very unique.  My biggest problem with this book were Charmaine and Stan.  They were both so deeply unlikable, and I really couldn’t ever get past that.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.


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