This is a review brought on from seeing the trope Dystopian Edict
and being reminded of an old highschool reading.
Handmaiden's tale plays the Dystopian Edict
trope to the hilt. Over the course of the novel, literally everyone is shown to be miserable and their lives are micromanaged to what would be a parodic extent if it were not played entirely for melodrama.
There are glimmers of interesting psychology, showing how even people in power feel some twinge of guilt at the system but mismanage it and showing some subversion of laws amongst the upperclass. However, the need to continually beat you over the head with the fact that this is a crapsack world and show how their day to day lives are so minutely managed defeat any realism of the book. Attempts to remind us how real it is fall flat since unlike most regimes where day to day life is promised to be protected for the most part, this one is hated by literally everyone in the book.
There is a lot of real psycological drama in the books and the beginnings of some things that could be interesting if explored deeper. It could be argued that this presents these deeper issues in a way that younger audiences can take them in if it weren't for the fact that it presents them with sex constantly worked in awkwardly. Were it done more subtlely and nuainced, I could take it seriously enough to address these issues, or if it avoided these issues, I could take it as a sort of introduction to the psychology of a dystopia. It instead falls heavily into complicated issues without the nuaince and maturity required in order to remind us, the dystopia is in fact a crappy place to live.
The Epilogue where Nunavut is a major world power leading a conference and tried to sum up the moral of the whole plot was when my book hit the wall.
There is no subtlety, the Republic is a shit place to live and none of the characters are sympathetic except in so far as they are victims of this increasingly implausibly shitty place to live.