Title: The Heart Goes Last
Author: Margaret Atwood
On the Shelves: Fiction> Dystopian
Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid’s Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin.
Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around – and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in… for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes.
At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one’s head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan’s life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled. (Goodreads 2017)
Sidenote: I am updating this from the wordpress app so I apologise for the lack of a cut to save your pages-I will get it edited.
This is the second book of Atwood’s I have read, the first being The Handmaid’s Tale, back when I was doing A level English Lit in school. I have wanted to read more of her work since then but just hadn’t gotten around to it.
The Heart Goes Last is a dystopian fiction where society has gone to the dogs. The economy is awful, no employment, the property bubble has burst and people, including Stan and Charmaine, are living out of their car on scraps and begging for any opportunity. And then opportunity comes knocking-or so it seems.
The powers thay be have set up a “safe space” for any persons who get accepted into the programme. It will secure property, employment, boost the economy and help citizens feel they are valued again while ensuring they do not go cold and hungry. The catch? Half of their time will be spent in allocated accomodation, living normally with their families. The other half will be spent in prison, completing work such as factory work- horticulture, sewing and the like. It seems like a grand idea but it starts to unravel for Stan and Charmaine when Stan starts to get paranoid that Charmaine is having an affair…is he paranoid after all?
Atwood has a wonderfully subtle way of building up tension and using it to snowball the story from a simple gesture into a huge movement. The story itself is intriguing and the characters are likeable despite being flawed in numerous ways. There were one or two plot twists which I didn’t see coming and it is so refreshing to not be able to predict where a story will go.
I really enjoyed this and recommend it to anybody who likes dystopian fiction.