Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Four Stars

“You wanted a woman’s culture. Well, now there is one. It isn’t what you meant, but it exists.”

A 1985 dystopia set in a severe and hypocritical (aren’t they all?) theocracy, Atwood’s tale is a cautionary tale about how American culture could degenerate under the combines pressures of extended Cold War and the environmental assault of then-current industrial practice.

“No empire imposed by force or otherwise has been without this feature: control of the indigenous by members of their own group.”

The story’s confused chronology is due to the semi-stream-of-consciousness remanences of one of the titular handmaids, partly explained in the accompanying Historical Note. Atwood tells just enough to propel Continue reading

Book Review: The Emperor’s Railroad by Guy Haley (Three Stars)

Book Review: The Emperor’s Railroad (Dreaming Cities, #1) by Guy Haley

Three Stars

“The future is ashes, the past is treasure. When you get where I am the past’ll look brighter to you as well.”

A finely-told novella about a dystopic future with zombies. Normally, I would have quit before discovering how well written it is. Well crafted.

“God has redeemed us to the level we deserve.”

The zombies cost Haley a star. They are an unnecessary, unimaginative shortcut. He’s good enough, he could have accomplished the same effect without resorting to such a tired trope.

“Everyman ever born thinks he knows how to save the world, but most of them sit on their hands.”

Book Review: A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (Four Stars)

Book Review: A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes

Four Stars out of Five

Image a world where people knew when they would die. Imagine a world where people were required to carry a clock showing how many years, days, hours and seconds remained in their lives. Imagine being seventeen years old and having only one more year to live. And knowing it.

Unfortunately our protagonist is a lazy, stubborn, impulsive teen—yeah, like a lot of us at that age. (Maybe any age.) And she’s a Christian, at least nominally so. No hint of her knowing what that means, let alone living differently, at first. (Kind of like a lot of us again.) Not a very sympathetic character, but she makes up for it by doing stupid things and suffering the consequences—even though she still doesn’t learn. No, she doesn’t get a break. Yes, it gets irritating. Probably a pretty normal life.

And she lives over a century into our future when things have changed—a lot.

Not bad writing. Brandes manages to bring this story to a satisfactory close, while dangling lots of hooks for the next. Better than many far more famous authors.

Considering this was Brandes’ freshman effort, I gave her extra credit.

Not quite as good as Firebird, but another hit for Enclave Publishing.