The outlet sale Heart Goes Last: A high quality Novel outlet sale

The outlet sale Heart Goes Last: A high quality Novel outlet sale

The outlet sale Heart Goes Last: A high quality Novel outlet sale

Description

Product Description

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid''s Tale

In the gated community of Consilience, residents who sign a contract will get a job and a lovely house for six months of the year—if they serve as inmates in the Positron prison system for the alternate months…

Stan and Charmaine, a young urban couple, have been hit by job loss and bankruptcy in the midst of nationwide economic collapse. Forced to live in their third-hand Honda, where they are vulnerable to roving gangs, they think the gated community of Consilience may be the answer to their prayers. At first, this seems worth it: they will have a roof over their heads and food on the table. But when a series of troubling events unfolds, Positron begins to look less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.  The Heart Goes Last is a vivid, urgent vision of development and decay, freedom and surveillance, struggle and hope—and the timeless workings of the human heart.

Review

“Captivating. . . . Thrilling. . . . Margaret Atwood [is] a living legend.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Quintessential Atwood. . . . The writing here is so persuasive, so crisp, that it seeps under your skin.” The Boston Globe

“An arresting perspective on the confluence of information, freedom, and security in the modern age.” The New Yorker
 
“A gripping, psychologically acute portrayal of our own future gone totally wrong, and the eternal constant of flawed humanity.” Huffington Post

“Dystopia virtuoso Margaret Atwood turns her effortless world-building, deft humor and grim commentary on the depths of human hubris to the prison industrial complex, love and free will.” — The Denver Post

“Rare apocalyptic entertainment. . . . Not only does Atwood sketch out an all-too-possible future but she also looks to the past, tapping into archetypes from fairy tales and myth, giving the novel a resonance beyond satire.” — The Miami Herald

“Another Atwood classic.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Poignant. . . . Gloriously madcap. . . . You only pause in your laughter when you realise that, in its constituent parts, the world she depicts here is all too horribly plausible.” — The Guardian (London)

 “Engrossing.” — The Austin Chronicle

“Wonderful. . . . Explores the idea of a powerful system and its discontents. . . . Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last is a riveting addition to her oeuvre.” — Electric Literature

“Atwood’s creepy but entertaining vision of a possible future.” — The Washington Times

“Fast-paced and funny. . . . True love ultimately endures in  The Heart Goes Last, but so do the real terrors present in Atwood novels, all too often manifesting in ours.” — PopMatters
 
“Eerily prophetic. . . . A heady blend of speculative fiction with noir undertones that is provocative, powerful and will prompt all readers to reassess which parts of their humanity are for sale.” — BookPage

“Ever-inventive, astutely observant, and drolly ironic, Atwood unfurls a riotous plot. . . . This laser-sharp, hilariously campy, and swiftly flowing satire delves deeply into our desires, vices, biases, and contradictions, bringing fresh, incisive comedy to the rising tide of postapocalyptic fiction . . . in which Atwood has long been a clarion voice.” — Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. In addition to  The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series, her novels include  Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize;  Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy;  The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize;  Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize;  The Year of the FloodMaddAddam; and  Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. In 2019, she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CRAMPED

Sleeping in the car is cramped. Being a third-hand Honda, it’s no palace to begin with. If it was a van they’d have more room, but fat chance of affording one of those, even back when they thought they had money. Stan says they’re lucky to have any kind of a car at all, which is true, but their luckiness doesn’t make the car any bigger.

Charmaine feels that Stan ought to sleep in the back because he needs more space--it would only be fair, he’s larger--but he has to be in the front in order to drive them away fast in an emergency. He doesn’t trust Charmaine’s ability to function under those circumstances: he says she’d be too busy screaming to drive. So Charmaine can have the more spacious back, though even so she has to curl up like a snail because she can’t exactly stretch out.

They keep the windows mostly closed because of the mosquitoes and the gangs and the solitary vandals. The solitaries don’t usually have guns or knives--if they have those kinds of weapons you have to get out of there triple fast--but they’re more likely to be bat-shit crazy, and a crazy person with a piece of metal or a rock or even a high-heeled shoe can do a lot of damage. They’ll think you’re a demon or the undead or a vampire whore, and no kind of reasonable thing you might do to calm them down will cancel out that opinion. The best thing with crazy people, Grandma Win used to say--the only thing, really--is to be somewhere else.

With the windows shut except for a crack at the top, the air gets dead and supersaturated with their own smells. There aren’t many places where they can grab a shower or wash their clothes, and that makes Stan irritable. It makes Charmaine irritable too, but she tries her best to stamp on that feeling and look on the bright side, because what’s the use of complaining?

What’s the use of anything? she often thinks. But what’s the use of even thinking What’s the use? So instead she says, “Honey, let’s just cheer up!”

“Why?” Stan might say. “Give me one good fucking reason to cheer the fuck up.” Or he might say, “Honey, just shut it!” mimicking her light, positive tone, which is mean of him. He can lean to the mean when he’s irritated, but he’s a good man underneath. Most people are good underneath if they have a chance to show their goodness: Charmaine is determined to keep on believing that. A shower is a help for the showing of the goodness in a person, because, as Grandma Win was in the habit of saying, Cleanliness is next to godliness and godliness means goodliness.

That was among the other things she might say, such as Your mother didn’t kill herself, that was just talk. Your daddy did the best he could but he had a lot to put up with and it got too much. You should try hard to forget those other things, because a man’s not accountable when he’s had too much to drink. And then she would say, Let’s make popcorn!

And they would make the popcorn, and Grandma Win would say, Don’t look out the window, sugar pie, you don’t want to see what they’re doing out there. It isn’t nice. They yell because they want to. It’s self-expression. Sit here by me. It all worked out for the best, because look, here you are and we’re happy and safe now!

That didn’t last, though. The happiness. The safeness. The now.



WHERE?

Stan twists in the front seat, trying to get comfortable. Not much fucking chance of that. So what can he do? Where can they turn? There’s no safe place, there are no instructions. It’s like he’s being blown by a vicious but mindless wind, aimlessly round and round in circles. No way out.

He feels so lonely, and sometimes having Charmaine with him makes him feel lonelier. He’s let her down.

He has a brother, true, but that would be a last resort. He and Conor had followed different paths, was the polite way of saying it. A drunken midnight fight, with dickheads and douchebags and shit-for-brains freely exchanged, would be the impolite way of saying it, and it was in fact the way Conor had chosen during their last encounter. To be accurate, Stan had chosen that way too, though he’d never had as foul a mouth as Con.

In Stan’s view--his view at that time--Conor was next door to a criminal. But in Con’s view Stan was a dupe of the system, an ass-kisser, a farce, and a coward. Balls of a tadpole.

Where’s slippery Conor now, what’s he doing? At least he won’t have lost his job in the big financial-crash business-wrecking meltdown that turned this part of the country into a rust bucket: you can’t lose your job if you don’t have one. Unlike Stan, he hasn’t been expelled, cast out, condemned to a life of frantic, grit-in-the-eyes, rancid-armpit wandering. Con always lived off what he could mooch or filch from others, ever since he was a kid. Stan hasn’t forgotten his Swiss Army knife that he’d saved up for, his Transformer, his Nerf gun with the foam bullets: magical disappearances all, with Con’s younger-brother head going shake shake shake from side to side, no way, who, me?

Stan wakes at night thinking for a moment that he’s home in bed, or at least in a bed of some sort. He reaches for Charmaine, but she isn’t there beside him and he finds himself inside the stinking car, needing a piss but afraid to unlock the door because of the voices yammering toward him and the footsteps crunching on gravel or thudding on asphalt, and maybe a fist thumping on the roof and a scarred, partly toothed face grinning in the window: Lookit what we got! Cockfodder! Let’s open ’er up! Gimme the crowbar!

And then Charmaine’s terrified little whisper: “Stan! Stan! We need to go! We need to go right now!” As if he couldn’t figure that out for himself. He keeps the key in the ignition, always. Rev of motor, screech of tires, yelling and jeering, pounding of heart, and then what? More of the same in some other parking lot or sidestreet, somewhere else. It would be nice if he had a machine gun: nothing any smaller would even come close. As it is, his only weapon is flight.

He feels pursued by bad luck, as if bad luck is a feral dog, lurking along behind him, following his scent, lying in wait around corners. Peering out from under bushes to fix him with its evil yellow eye. Maybe what he needs is a witch doctor, some serious voodoo. Plus a couple of hundred bucks so they could spend a night in a motel, with Charmaine beside him instead of out of reach in the back seat. That would be the bare minimum: to wish for any more would be pushing it.

Charmaine’s commiseration makes it worse. She tries so hard. “You are not a failure,” she says. “Just because we lost the house and we’re sleeping in the car, and you got . . .” She doesn’t want to say fired. “And you haven’t given up, at least you’re looking for a job. Those things like losing the house, and, and . . . those things have happened to a lot of people. To most people.”

“But not to everyone,” Stan would say. “Not to fucking everyone.”

Not to rich people.

---

They’d started out so well. They both had jobs then. Charmaine was in the Ruby Slippers Retirement Homes and Clinics chain, doing entertainment and events--she had a special touch with the elderly, said the supervisors--and she was working her way up. He was doing well too: junior quality control at Dimple Robotics, testing the Empathy Module in the automated Customer Fulfillment models. People didn’t just want their groceries bagged, he used to explain to Charmaine: they wanted a total shopping experience, and that included a smile. Smiles were hard; they could turn into grimaces or leers, but if you got a smile right, they’d spend extra for it. Amazing to remember, now, what people would once spend extra for.

They’d had a small wedding--just friends, since there wasn’t much family left on either side, their parents being dead one way or another. Charmaine said she wouldn’t have invited hers anyway, though she didn’t elaborate because she didn’t like to talk about them, but she wished her Grandma Win could have been there. Who knew where Conor was? Stan didn’t look for him, because if he turned up he would probably have tried to grope Charmaine or do some other attention-grabbing stunt.

Then they had a beach honeymoon in Georgia. That was a high point. There are the two of them in the photos, golden and smiling, sunlight all over them like mist, raising their glasses of--what had that been, some tropical cocktail heavy on the lime cordial--raising their glasses to their new life. Charmaine in a retro flower-patterned halter top with a sarong skirt and a hibiscus blossom tucked behind her ear, her blond hair shining, ruffled by the breeze, him in a green shirt with penguins on it that Charmaine had picked out for him, and a panama; well, not a real panama, but that idea. They look so young, so untouched. So eager for the future.

Stan sent one of those photos to Conor to show that there was, finally, a girl of Stan’s that Con couldn’t poach; also as an example of the success Con himself might expect to have if he’d settle down, go straight, stop doing minor time, quit fooling around on the fringes. It’s not that Con wasn’t smart: he was too smart. Always playing the angles.

Con sent a message back: Nice T&A, big brother. Can she cook? Dumb penguins though. Typical: Con had to sneer, he had to disparage. That was before he’d cut the lines, dumped his email, refused to share his address.

---

Back up north, they’d made a down payment on a house, a starter two-bedroom in need of a little love but with room for the growing family, said the agent with a wink. It seemed affordable, but in retrospect the decision to buy was a mistake--there were the renovations and repairs, and that meant extra debt on top of the mortgage. They told themselves they could handle it: they weren’t big spenders, they worked hard. That’s the killer: the hard work. He’d busted his ass. He might as well not have bothered, in view of the fuck-all he’s been left with. It makes him cross-eyed to remember how hard he’d worked.

Then everything went to ratshit. Overnight, it felt like. Not just in his own personal life: the whole card castle, the whole system fell to pieces, trillions of dollars wiped off the balance sheets like fog off a window. There were hordes of two-bit experts on TV pretending to explain why it had happened--demographics, loss of confidence, gigantic Ponzi schemes--but that was all guesswork bullshit. Someone had lied, someone had cheated, someone had shorted the market, someone had inflated the currency. Not enough jobs, too many people. Or not enough jobs for middle-of-the-road people like Stan and Charmaine. The northeast, which was where they were, was the hardest hit.

The Ruby Slippers branch where Charmaine worked ran into trouble: it was upscale, so a lot of families could no longer afford to park their old folks in there. Rooms emptied, overheads were cut. Charmaine applied for a transfer--the chain was still doing well on the West Coast--but that didn’t happen, and she was made redundant. Then Dimple Robotics packed up and moved west, and Stan was out without a parachute.

They sat in their newly bought home on their newly bought sofa with the flowered throw pillows that Charmaine had taken such trouble to match, and hugged each other, and said they loved each other, and Charmaine cried, and Stan patted her and felt useless.

Charmaine got a temporary job waiting tables; when that place went belly up, she got another one. Then another, in a bar. Not high-end places; those were drying up, because anyone who could afford to eat fancy food was gobbling it farther west, or else in exotic countries where the concept of minimum wage had never existed.

No such luck for Stan, with the odd jobs: overqualified, was what they told him at the employment office. He said he wasn’t picky--he’d clean floors, he’d mow lawns--and they smirked (what floors? what lawns?), and said they’d keep him on file. But then the employment office itself closed down, because why keep it open if there was no employment?

---

They held on in their little house, living on fast food and the money from selling the furniture, skimping on energy use and sitting in the dark, hoping things would take an upturn. Finally they put the house on the market, but by then there were no buyers; the houses on either side of theirs were already empty, and the looters had been through them, ripping out anything that could be sold. One day they had no mortgage money left, and their credit cards were frozen. They walked out before they were thrown out, and drove away before the creditors could grab their car.

Luckily Charmaine had saved up a little stash of cash. That, and her tiny pay packet at the bar, plus tips--those have kept them in gas, and a post-office box so they can pretend to have an address if anything does come up for Stan, and the odd trip to the laundromat when they can’t stand the griminess of their clothes.

Stan has sold his blood twice, though he didn’t get much for it. “You wouldn’t believe it,” the woman said to him as she handed him a paper cup of fake juice after his second blood drain, “but some people have asked us if we want to buy their babies’ blood, can you imagine?”

“No shit,” says Stan. “Why? Babies don’t have that much blood.”

More valuable, was her answer. She said there was a news item that claimed a total blood renewal, young blood for old, staves off dementia and rolls your physical clock back twenty, thirty years. “It’s only been tried with mice,” she said. “Mice aren’t people! But some folks will clutch at anything. We’ve turned away at least a dozen baby-blood offers. We tell them we can’t accept it.”

Someone’s accepting it, Stan thought. You can bet they are. If there’s money in it.

---

If only the two of them could find some place where the prospects are better. There’s said to be a boom in Oregon--fuelled by a rare earth discovery, China’s buying a lot of that--but how can they get out there? They’d no longer have Charmaine’s trickle of money coming in, they’d run out of gas. They could ditch the car, try hitching, but Charmaine is terrified by the thought. Their car is the only barrier between them and gang rape, and not just for her, she says, considering what’s out there roaming around in the night with no pants on. She has a point.

What should he do to pull them out of this ditch? Whatever he has to. There used to be a lot of jobs licking ass in the corporate world, but those asses are now out of reach. Banking’s left the region, manufacturing too; the digital genius outfits have migrated to fatter pastures in other, more prosperous locations and nations. Service industries used to be held out as a promise of salvation, but those jobs too are scarce, at least around here. One of Stan’s uncles, dead now, had been a chef, back when cheffing was a good gig because the top slice was still living onshore and high-end restaurants were glamorous. But not today, when those kinds of customers are floating around on tax-free sea platforms just outside the offshore limit. People that rich take their own chefs with them.

---

Another midnight, another parking lot. It’s the third one tonight; they’ve had to flee the previous two. Now they’re so on edge they can’t get back to sleep.

"Maybe we should try the slots," says Charmaine. They’d done that once, and come out ten dollars to the good. It wasn’t much, but at least they hadn’t lost it all.

"No way," says Stan. "We can’t afford the risk, we need the money for gas."

"Have some gum, honey," says Charmaine. "Relax a little. Go to sleep. Your brain’s too active."

"What fucking brain?" says Stan. There’s a hurt silence: he shouldn’t take it out on her. Dickhead, he tells himself. None of this is her fault.

Tomorrow he’ll eat his pride. He’ll hunt down Conor, help him out with whatever scam he’s engaged in, join the criminal underclass. He has an idea about where to start looking. Or maybe he’ll just hit Con up for a loan, supposing Con is flush. That shoe used to be on the other foot – it was Conor who’d done the hitting up when they were younger, and before Conor had figured out how to game the system – but he’ll need to avoid reminding Conor of their former positions now.

Or maybe he should remind him. Con owes him. He could say Payback time or something. Not that he’s got any leverage. But still, Con’s his brother. And he is Con’s brother. Which must be worth something.

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3.9 out of 53.9 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Jessica Sullivan
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Highly readable but way too campy and ridiculous
Reviewed in the United States on April 5, 2017
Okay, what the hell did I just read?! I came into this one pretty fresh off The Handmaid''s Tale, and it could not possibly be any different. They''re both dystopian, sure, but where Handmaid''s Tale is bleak, serious, brilliant literary fiction, The Heart Goes Last is smutty,... See more
Okay, what the hell did I just read?! I came into this one pretty fresh off The Handmaid''s Tale, and it could not possibly be any different. They''re both dystopian, sure, but where Handmaid''s Tale is bleak, serious, brilliant literary fiction, The Heart Goes Last is smutty, campy and ridiculous.

This isn''t necessarily a bad thing. It''s certainly a highly readable book—a pageturner of sorts. And it starts off with an interesting premise: Stan and Charmaine, a homeless couple living out of their car, accept an opportunity to take part in an experiment that promises to solve unemployment and crime and provide people with a meaningful life. Once they sign that contract, they''ll live out the rest of their lives in a gated community with everything they need...the only catch is that they have to spend every other month in the community''s prison system.

What begins as a compelling commentary on the prison industrial complex and the inevitable downsides of utopian societies goes completely off the rails halfway through and devolves into something else entirely. In fact, at times it''s hard to believe you''re still reading the same story.

It seems like Atwood came into this with lots of really interesting disparate ideas that she wasn''t able to converge into a cohesive narrative. Or maybe not...maybe she just wanted to write something completely out there.

As a full novel, if didn''t really work for me. And it didn''t help that the final quarter was way too drawn out. Also worth mentioning is that the characters of Stan and Charmaine behaved in ways that were frustratingly inconsistent with my understanding of them.

I don''t know. It''s honestly amazing to me that the same person who wrote The Handmaid''s Tale wrote this.
55 people found this helpful
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boundless
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
OH Margaret, what happened...?
Reviewed in the United States on July 29, 2016
I can''t begin to tell of my disappointment in this book from one of my favorite authors. A great premis of a story in the vein of The Handmaid''s Tale but is so poorly executed I could barely finish it. I kept waiting for it to turn around, waiting for a brilliant Atwood... See more
I can''t begin to tell of my disappointment in this book from one of my favorite authors. A great premis of a story in the vein of The Handmaid''s Tale but is so poorly executed I could barely finish it. I kept waiting for it to turn around, waiting for a brilliant Atwood twist and some poetic prose to be dropped on me but it never happened. The characters are beyond dumb, there is no real hero, reluctant or otherwise (not that there even has to be but GeezeLouise I need something to latch onto here). I could have cared less about any of the characters. The villain was not remotely interesting. Please inject them all and be done with it.
73 people found this helpful
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Ivan Record
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Close to 4 stars but decided it was just good enough for 5
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2018
I love Atwood’s writing, so she could probably get 3 stars for a grocery list. This book is quirky, odd, dark and sometimes funny. I would say it’s like Kurt Vonnegut wrote 1984. If you want something that’s committed to a specific emotional theme (all... See more
I love Atwood’s writing, so she could probably get 3 stars for a grocery list.

This book is quirky, odd, dark and sometimes funny. I would say it’s like Kurt Vonnegut wrote 1984.

If you want something that’s committed to a specific emotional theme (all dark and serious, totally lighthearted, etc.) this is not for you.

However, if you’re interested in a good writer telling an offbeat story well, you might really enjoy it.

A few words of caution: I was hooked by the free sample, but the introductory section is not indicative of the book, so be prepared for a major shift in the overall tone.
16 people found this helpful
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Marie
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Chilling yet humorous social commentary on futuristic world
Reviewed in the United States on March 24, 2016
“Then he’s unconscious. Then he stops breathing. The heart goes last.” A wacked, absurd, comical novel that becomes obvious satire as the novel continues. As I read this book, I initially took it very seriously, trying to connect with the characters,... See more
“Then he’s unconscious. Then he stops breathing. The heart goes last.”

A wacked, absurd, comical novel that becomes obvious satire as the novel continues. As I read this book, I initially took it very seriously, trying to connect with the characters, understand motives, etc. However, by the end with the sexbots, possibilibots, Elvises and Marilyns it became obvious that the book is entirely satirical and meant to be comical. It also serves as a cautionary tale of “be careful what you wish for.” Having someone who loves you only because she has had the laser treatment may not be so fulfilling and rewarding in the end. Perhaps loving someone so completely is easier if you think you’ve had a brain surgery to make you do so.

I was so excited to embark on this novel after reading the premise: a couple destitute in this futuristic world decides to sign up for “Consilience,” a social experiment, where you spend alternate months in a prison and in a home with stable jobs within the confines of Positron. Their relationship becomes strange and a whole lot of sex ensues, none of which is really sexy. Their freedoms have been lost by joining this program and they have seemingly signed their own personalities away as well. They become different, much more superficial in their needs and wants. It’s almost as if having decisions made for them is appreciated, especially on Charmaine’s part.

In sum, I enjoyed the initial unravelling of the exciting premise. This segued to the drudgery of the mid-section where the characters are acting like robots and no one is very likable, and finally to the last portion which is an overwhelmingly satirical picture of the future where no one is happy having an ordinary relationship or partner, but instead seeks out a paid or modified companion.

I’m a big fan of Margaret Atwood. This is the 7th novel of hers that I’ve read and maybe my 6th or 7th favorite of them all. She’s an excellent writer and this is humorous/chilling social commentary, but I didn’t connect with it as well as I have some of her other novels.

For discussion questions, please see book-chatter.com.
26 people found this helpful
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Word Fan
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love Maggie but not this one
Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2016
Maggie is my literary goddess. I have ingested just about all the fiction she''s written with a deep and ceaseless hunger! That said, this latest book left me a bit cold. Characters didn''t strike a chord, despite their poignant dire circumstances, and I found myself... See more
Maggie is my literary goddess. I have ingested just about all the fiction she''s written with a deep and ceaseless hunger! That said, this latest book left me a bit cold. Characters didn''t strike a chord, despite their poignant dire circumstances, and I found myself skipping pages to get through to the next plot point. What went wrong? Not having read the previous stories in the Positron series, I can''t comment on how this story might or might not carry the torch for that series. I only know that I wanted the blade that cuts into our fragile and foibled human condition to go deeper than it did here.

Still, I found humor and pathos in The Heart Goes Last. And, as usual when reading Atwood, my brain couldn''t help but accelerate into the murky stratosphere of the future: when the reckoning comes, for whatever course we''ve set ourselves on, what will become of us? And what will we mere humans do to survive in a repugnant cosmic stewpot of our own making?

Keep writing, Maggie! You inspire, enlighten, dazzle and comfort all at once.
13 people found this helpful
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Jenn
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Keep an open mind. . .
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2019
I loved reading this book by Atwood! I love Handmaids Tale and read that in 4-5 days (mind you I have 5 children and a full time job while going to school to earn degree in my ''spare'' time!). I decided to look into more of her books and came across this title and found... See more
I loved reading this book by Atwood! I love Handmaids Tale and read that in 4-5 days (mind you I have 5 children and a full time job while going to school to earn degree in my ''spare'' time!). I decided to look into more of her books and came across this title and found varying reviews. I was hooked - I couldn''t put this book down! I was in the bathroom for longer than usual at home, at work and in school - yes, its that interesting! I believe the urge to read the rest of the book was curiosity eating away at me to find out how the book ends. I gave the book 4 stars - the last star is for the end of the book. . .without giving too much away and ruining it for those who haven''t read the book, I found that my eagerness to finish the book was more exciting then the end. If you''re into books with a moral lesson - then this may suite you, however I didn''t think it would end the way it did and so abruptly; then again, Handmaids Tale ended the same way . . maybe this is Atwood''s writing style?! Or does she give up near the end and throw in the towel?! Either way, it is an interesting read that will have you wondering how everything is going to mesh together in the end!! (Like Handsmaid - there are a bunch of unanswered questions!!)
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Dennis Zeunert
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Head Goes First
Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2016
Stan and Charmaine live in their third-hand Honda, dumpster-diving for food and wearing only dark clothes since lighter wear is harder to keep clean. A financial meltdown has submerged the country under a tsunami of business failures, trillions of dollars erased from... See more
Stan and Charmaine live in their third-hand Honda, dumpster-diving for food and wearing only dark clothes since lighter wear is harder to keep clean. A financial meltdown has submerged the country under a tsunami of business failures, trillions of dollars erased from investments, and millions of jobs lost. Without full-time work, Stan and Charmaine are intrigued by a TV announcer promoting the “Positron Project in the town of Consilience” with guaranteed employment. This community with a central prison, Positron, is sold as an experiment that solves the nation’s unemployment and crime with new lives for all concerned. The leader says of recruits, “They’re like the early pioneers, blazing a trail, clearing a way to the future.”

Stan and Charmaine join this lifesaving project, overwhelmed by clean sheets, their immaculate house, and satisfactory occupations. However, they cannot leave and cannot have cell phones connected to the outside. For one month their jobs are in the 50s-type town of Consilience where they live together, and then on alternating months, they have other positions and separate cells in the male and female sections of the Positron prison. However, humans are not made to follow strict rules. Secret desires develop and evolve into reality. They learn that survival trumps heart choices.

I found the writing precise but with too many lengthy descriptions of the viewpoint characters’ thought processes, which include their often repeated worries and plans, slowing the unfolding plot.

Atwood’s story develops as expected: Cult-like leaders have privileges, such as choosing sexual partners and travelling outside the community, not available to worker subordinates. Capitalism is not dead in Consilience/Positron: Though the bizarre money-making schemes are sometimes vague, Atwood must be congratulated for creativity.
6 people found this helpful
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sunflower8799
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It had potential....
Reviewed in the United States on January 23, 2016
Margaret Atwod is a master at creatively weaving dystopian science fiction, social commentary, and middle class angst into compelling stories you can''t put down. The Heart Goes Last started off strong. Its setting -- a not-too-distant future where unrestrained capitalism... See more
Margaret Atwod is a master at creatively weaving dystopian science fiction, social commentary, and middle class angst into compelling stories you can''t put down. The Heart Goes Last started off strong. Its setting -- a not-too-distant future where unrestrained capitalism and greed have turned America into a society that looks far more like a third world country than a superpower -- is a very real fear for many. The characters can only make bad choices in a society where there are few good choices available to the masses. But at some point, the artfully crafted story goes off the rails, with confusing and odd plot detours involving sex robots, Elvis impersonators, and references to bestiality. After sorting through all of that, you stop caring what happens to the characters in the end. For a far better dystopian novel by Atwood, try The Handmaid''s Tale.
5 people found this helpful
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G. Coates
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Futuristic novel from the master of the genre - but has she gone too far this time?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2018
This is not vintage Atwood, but even when Atwood is not at her best she outstrips many people writing today. The book starts off in familiar Atwood territory - a young couple scratching out an existence in a dystopian future. They see the possibility of a way out by signing...See more
This is not vintage Atwood, but even when Atwood is not at her best she outstrips many people writing today. The book starts off in familiar Atwood territory - a young couple scratching out an existence in a dystopian future. They see the possibility of a way out by signing up to a social project that offers them accommodation, jobs and security; the catch is that you have to spend every other month in prison. Actually, the bigger catch is that once you''re in, you can''t get out again. That part of the book is as clever and compelling as any dysfunctional setting of The Handmaid''s Tale or Oryx and Crake (my two favourite Atwood books.) However, this one then takes a different path and I''m not entirely sure whether Atwood sets out to be deliberately funny (I hope so), or the plot is just so ludicrous that it becomes unintentionally so. We end up with Elvis impersonators, Marilyn Monroe look-alikes, men with green faces and sinister blue teddy bears, all leading to slightly glib ending where everyone ends up living happily in a place which does not quite match up with the broken down society we met in the opening paragraphs. I took it as a comedy and laughed, but not all my fellow book club members saw the funny side and found it weak. Like the curate''s egg - good in parts.
7 people found this helpful
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Graham Surrey
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Like a punch drunk boxer - Know when to quit...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2018
Having reached the end of this turgid read, I found the acknowledgements where Attwood cites 15-20 people who supposedly edited or reviewed the book. They should hold their heads in shame. I have only read 2 Attwood''s, The Handmaid''s Tale and this, written approximately 30...See more
Having reached the end of this turgid read, I found the acknowledgements where Attwood cites 15-20 people who supposedly edited or reviewed the book. They should hold their heads in shame. I have only read 2 Attwood''s, The Handmaid''s Tale and this, written approximately 30 years apart, and boy does it show. Handmaid''s was beautifully constructed, evoking the world of Gilead with side glances and evocation. In this tome she treats the reader like idiots, with TV Movie tropes and such unrealistic characterizations that you feel no empathy for anyone. Like a punch drunk boxer, please no more unless it is properly edited.
5 people found this helpful
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Johnnie Boy
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
First half better than the second but still a page turner.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 20, 2020
The first half of the book and some of the concepts were great. Also the way Charmaine was dragged into administering the procedure. I wasn''t quite sure that I bought into the second half of the plot. Was Stan sprung so that he could do the attachment thing with Charmaine...See more
The first half of the book and some of the concepts were great. Also the way Charmaine was dragged into administering the procedure. I wasn''t quite sure that I bought into the second half of the plot. Was Stan sprung so that he could do the attachment thing with Charmaine just to make Joslyn or may be even Conner feel good which didn''t really seem in character. After all what did Stan do that Veronica or even Joslyn couldn''t have done? A very nice little twist right at the end although I did wonder if that was going to happen. However I also wondered if the gift might have been a Stan sex-bot to counter Stan losing interest that would have been a great but sad touch.
2 people found this helpful
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Pet
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Is this really written by Atwood?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 25, 2021
I have read a good deal of Atwood’s books and I cannot believe this is written by her. The basis of this book is promising i.e. the horrors that people be willing to self-inflict just to live a semi-dignified, comfortable life, but the writing is just so darn awful. The...See more
I have read a good deal of Atwood’s books and I cannot believe this is written by her. The basis of this book is promising i.e. the horrors that people be willing to self-inflict just to live a semi-dignified, comfortable life, but the writing is just so darn awful. The plot is rushed, it’s like ideas have been quickly jolted down with no further examination, thought or development. The sentences are short and stubby, the plot is seems to only be there to disgust and shock the reader. All characters are very unlikable; I would have expected to feel pain and sympathy for their struggles in this dystopian future but there are no means to feel any empathy for any of the characters as they are underdeveloped, mechanical and wooden with little to no conflicted feelings. It’s just not good, it’s lazy writing. Disappointed, would have given this 0 stars if there was the option
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Boingboing
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Quality Control Goes Last
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 25, 2016
Margaret Atwood has written some fabulous novels and many entertaining short stories but this particular book is not one of her best. In parts it is too silly for words and it''s hard to conceive that the same writer could possibly have turned out The Handmaid''s Tale or Oryx...See more
Margaret Atwood has written some fabulous novels and many entertaining short stories but this particular book is not one of her best. In parts it is too silly for words and it''s hard to conceive that the same writer could possibly have turned out The Handmaid''s Tale or Oryx and Crake. As a dystopian novel this is more like a second rate YA/NA novel than classic Atwood. Not wishing to sound prudish, I would still say there is too much shabby and loveless sex and too few characters to care about.
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