Margaret Atwood has been one of my favorite authors for a very long time, and this was before every media outlet decided to adapt her work for television. Her ability to convey hurt, despair, and triumph despite circumstance, is what makes her a unique storyteller. The way she portrays her protagonists, you not only fall in love with them, you hope to be as brave as them.
I found about her, years before the famous adaptations, through a girl I was dating. It was through her love of Atwood’s work that I became enamored as well. The way she described each book, made me feel like these were places you had to visit. The first book, that she introduced me to was The Blind Assassin, a complicated murder mystery shrouded in family history and forbidden love.
I always wondered how her books would translate to comic form. She gave us an original story in Angel Catbird but it was her prose novels that deserve even further examination. For the first time, fans of hers will get to see how the world of Offred is brought to life via comic form in The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel.
We are dropped in the Red Centre. What was a gym, has now become the sleeping quarters for hundreds of women, all whom are silenced and their names taken. We meet Offred, a young lady who is less than a prisoner, as she becomes beholden to the man of the house, The Commander. We soon find out that in this world women are slaves. In this America, men hold power absolutely. We also meet the Commander’s wife, a wretched woman who sees Offred as another in a long line of women who will fail to bear the Commander a child. We also meet Nick, the Commander’s chauffeur, and someone Offred falls for. There’s Aunt Lydia, an austere warden of the women who bare children and a strict disciplinarian of any woman who gets out of line. Soon Offred gets into dangerous territory, an illicit affair with the Commander beyond the function of child bearing. The Commander also becomes infatuated with her.
Overall, the graphic novel is a skillful exploration of how humanity can turn on its own and the evil that can be resurrected when the dark recesses are left to wander in the minds of men in power. The story by Margaret Atwood is scary, heart wrenching, and unforgettable. The adaptation and illustration by Renee Nault are articulate and gorgeous. Altogether, if you loved the book and the television show, this interpretation is paramount to your understanding of this world.
Story: Margaret Atwood Adaptation: Renee Nault Art: Renee Nault
Story: 10 Adaptation: 9.5 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy