With all of the hype surrounding Margaret Atwood’s new book The Testaments, plenty of attention has once again returned to the original, The Handmaid’s Tale. I recently came across a popular BuzzFeed article that offered up some “read-alike” suggestions for fans of the The Handmaid’s Tale. Some of the reading suggestions were pretty spot on (The Power by Naomi Alderman), while others seemed like a bit of a stretch (Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro). I thought I could do better. The following are some of my suggestions for books with a similar feel to The Handmaid’s Tale – they are all chilling near-future dystopian novels where women are subjugated by controlling theocratic governments.
In this provocative debut novel, the author (a linguist) creates a near future world in which speech and language—or the withholding thereof—are powerful instruments of control. The election of a conservative president, alongside his psychotic religious advisor, caps off a decades-long trend toward repression and authoritarianism. They pass a law limiting women to no more than 100-words a day, followed by laws against women's education and employment altogether. Our heroine Jean, a former doctor, resolves to be heard for the sake of her daughter’s future.
Red Clocks imagines a powerful and evocative alternate reality in which the United States has passed the Personhood amendment, reversing Roe v. Wade and making abortion a crime. The novel follows five women as they struggle with changes and, in some cases, try to make a break for the Canadian border.
A dystopian take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke follows a young woman in Texas who awakens to a nightmarish new life. Her skin has been genetically altered, turned bright red as punishment for the crime of having an abortion. Stigmatized and in a hostile and frightening world, she must make a perilous journey northward to safety.
Set in Minnesota in a dystopian future in which evolution is going haywire, Future Home of the Living God follows pregnant twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker. Many women are dying in childbirth, their babies not viable. An ultrasound indicates that Cedar's child might be perfect but the increasingly fascist and evangelical government of the day has begun round up and incarcerate pregnant women until their delivery. Cedar decides to flee to her Ojibwe birth mother’s reservation, but soon finds that no place is safe.
This Little Light, a brand new novel by Canadian author Lori Lansens, follows a cynical teen girl growing up in an affluent SoCal neighborhood circa 2023. There has been a further political entrenchment of America's alt-right, abortion has been outlawed and access to birth control entirely restricted. Outside the world of the fancy gated communities and purity balls, people live in stark poverty. Sixteen-year-old Rori remains skeptical while her friends take their virginity pledges, but is shocked when a bomb goes off at the event. She is accused of staging the blast and, with a bounty on her head, she must go on the run. Through her blog over the course of forty eight hours, the reader begins to understand what is going on, who might be pulling strings and why Rory is being targeted.
All of these titles can be reserved at your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries. Click on any title to place a hold in our catalogue.