This is one of those books that make you think. There is so much going on here that Atwood will leave you pondering long after you finish reading this novel. On the surface, this novel is another dystopian plot of life after a financial meltdown, only this time there has been absolutely no “bounce-back” for anyone except the extremely wealthy.
For the characters of Stan and his wife Charmaine, living in their car; moving it to keep away from gangs of robbers and rapists multiple times every night, has become much too difficult. When they see an ad for a new kind of life they decide to apply. This process involves listening to lectures and signing their lives away. They agree to live in the dual communities of Positron and Consilience. For one month they will live in the community of Consilience, a seemingly “normal” town, and the next month they live in Positron (the prison). Even the house they live in is also lived in by their opposites. While they are in prison, the other couple lives in their house. No one “owns” anything – all is shared by the community. As it goes in all these plots, people are none too interested in finding out about what is really going on behind the scenes.
Stan’s prison job has him taking care of the chickens, while Charmaine works on the medical end of things. This is the part that I found fascinating. How did Charmaine come to be the follower that she obviously is? How much adversity does one have to go through in order to blindly follow orders without question? While I felt that there was a lot of time spent on extra-marital sex, which I felt was just a bit (very) long and boring, the rest of the book was extremely interesting due to the questions it brought up. What would someone do to stay “safe”?
I recommend this book, since Atwood always makes you think.