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Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

29th Jaunary, 2016

Book Review: The heart goes last by Margaret Atwood

A couple sign up for a social experiment project whereby they can live in luxury for a month, the only condition being that the next month they have to stay in a prison while another couple called their Alternates take their place and live in their house. Each month the two couples repeat the house-prison-house schedule. But what is the prject actually about? And what happens to the marriage when they develop feelings towards their Alternates?


Get ready, all of you with evil twisted minds out there – here’s the perfect book for you!

The Heart Goes Last is a dark (very) tale of our world in the distant future, marred by an economic crisis. The couple in the story, Stan and Charmaine are forced to live in a car on losing their jobs and all other possessions.  So when a social project named Positron, headed by Jocelyn and Ed, invites volunteers, they sign up hoping for a better life in the experimental city of the project. Only condition – They have to live in a beautiful 1950s styled house with lovely chinaware and trimmed hedges for one month  and the next month they have to move to a prison cell, live like convicts and help run the city. Stan looks after the chickens in coop and Charmaine knits teddy bears for charity (Remember the teddy bears. It is a dark dark tale) while in prison. While they serve their time in prison, another couple, their Alternates, would live in their house. The Positron project is a closed world, no contact with anyone outside its walls and everything the residents need (or even more – the food is super delicious) is available inside the walled city.

“The past is so much safer, because whatever’s in it has already happened. It can’t be changed; so, in a way, there’s nothing to dread.”

Life is good, alternating with the Alternates, with whom they have are not allowed to have contact with. But things turn topsy turvy when Stan and Charmaine develop sexual fascinations with their Alternates. Under the pressure of conformity, erupt silent betrayals, guilt and discomfort. As Stan tries to pursue the girl of his fantasies, he discovers some secrets of his wife as well as some truths that might shake the foundations of the project. There are so many secrets spilling out of each page, trust me! And the twists, Oh my! Twists one after the other and a perfect climax (*read as evil and super sinister). I loved this read.

Book Review: The heart goes last by Margaret Atwood

What I couldn’t comprehend throughout was Jocelyn’s character, her sudden changes in mind- good to evil to good and so on. I did not feel convinced by how she narrowed down Stan to be her choice of ‘help’ to clear the mess . And also, everyone seems to be sex-starved throughout. I mean, why is that? It is a little weird.  And yes,the book has an exciting yet disturbing storyline. (Remember the teddy bears? *evil evil* And Charmaine’s secret job? *evil evil*).

I loved the fast paced narrative in The Heart goes Last. Atwood has a knack of talking about very disturbing matters with an ease that does not disgust. The story does bear a resemblance to 1984 by Orwell, but perhaps it is a cliche that the dystopian literature may often fall into, so no complaints. My heart pounded heavier as I turned each page. So I would recommend this to anyone who likes to clap hands in glee after reading dark story lines.

In a nutshell this is one amazing work by Atwood. A must read for dystopian literature fans out there and high up on the list for those who want to dip their toes in this genre. Be warned that there are some disturbing situations described, like the manufacture of sex-bots, sex slavery etc, so this book might be more suitable for a mature audience.

About the edition : Just could not end this review without talking about this edition. It is absolutely gorgeous with a bright coloured jacket (that blue and orange are dashing to look at) that has a trade soft feel. The pages are thick, and hence a delight to read. Highly recommended. Trust me, get the hardback if you buy the book.

Title : The Heart Goes Last
Author : Margaret Atwood
Publisher : Bloomsbury 
Published : 2015
Language : English
Pages : 320
Rating : 4/5

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The Heart Goes Last

About the Author

Margaret Eleanor Atwood, is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She has won many awards for her works and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once. Atwood is also the inventor, and developer, of the LongPen and associated technologies that facilitate the remote robotic writing of documents. Atwood has penned down many poetry and short story collections. A few of of her well known works are The Handmaid’s tale, The Blind Asassin, The Heart Goes Last and Oryx and Crake.

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This Post Has 21 Comments
    1. Phew. So glad to hear another person say it. I have only seen reviews praising Margaret Atwood for her brilliant writing. I was wondering if I was the only person with a problem with the characterisation of Jocelyn.

    1. Awesome! I hope you will be able to get a copy. It is such an easy read and the fact that she writes disturbing things in a way that don’t disgust makes it a very fast read. Hope you will like it.

  1. I recently added this to my TBR as Atwood is masterful at her craft and I was excited to read something else by her. I’m so happy you did this review and even more happy to know that it’s a dark book. Now my head is filled with teddy bears and I’m coming up with a million ideas for what’s going on already. Can’t wait to read this!

  2. So I actually have this book as an ebook but simply haven’t read it yet. But I love a psychological thriller which messes with your mind is full of twists and is very dark. Which is why this one sounds just perfect for me. I can’t wait to read it and find out more about how this one is twisted. Brilliant review~ Following you on Bloglovin now 😀

  3. Once in a while something that gives me the shivers sounds good. I will keep this in mind. I’ve wanted to try one of her books for a while.

    1. Haha! I know. By the middle of the book I was really thinking about that- Why is everyone so super crazy about sex? Well, its a dystopian world in the near future, so maybe yeah Hope you will enjoy it when you pick it up.

  4. Hi Resh – Thanks for stopping by my Blog.

    I read a few of your posts. You have a very impressive blog.

    I really love Margaret Atwood but I have not read this book. It sounds really interesting. It does not sound like the other works that I have read by her. With that, everything that I have read by her is so different, she is such a creative writer.

  5. I’ve seen this book around a lot, but I guess I never actually read the synopsis or any reviews because I had no idea this was what it was about, and this does sound interesting! Some of the things you mentioned about the characters and certain things not making sense do seem a little off-putting, but I love dark and twisty books. Your review has me thinking maybe I should give this one a try!

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