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The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel

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Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Co Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, The Handmaid's Tale has long been a global phenomenon. With this stunning graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood's modern classic, beautifully realized by artist Renee Nault, the terrifying reality of Gilead has been brought to vivid life like never before.


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Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Co Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, The Handmaid's Tale has long been a global phenomenon. With this stunning graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood's modern classic, beautifully realized by artist Renee Nault, the terrifying reality of Gilead has been brought to vivid life like never before.

30 review for The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I just reviewed Margaret Atwood's original story, so I won't re-discuss plot and themes. I have seen some of the fine Hulu series, so was interested to see that Renée Nault had adapted and illustrated Atwood's story as a graphic novel. The artwork here is gorgeous, creating a somewhat different effect than the film adaptation, emphasizing on almost every page the rich, deep red of the handmaidens, etching that color forever in your mind, and meaning of the red changes over the course of the book I just reviewed Margaret Atwood's original story, so I won't re-discuss plot and themes. I have seen some of the fine Hulu series, so was interested to see that Renée Nault had adapted and illustrated Atwood's story as a graphic novel. The artwork here is gorgeous, creating a somewhat different effect than the film adaptation, emphasizing on almost every page the rich, deep red of the handmaidens, etching that color forever in your mind, and meaning of the red changes over the course of the book. It's a faithful adaptation, true to the horror and the steadily growing sense of resistance, and a looming rebellion, of May Day. I strongly recommend you check it out. A fine and worthy companion to the original. It captures the sense of the narrative in case you just want to know the story and don't really intend to read Atwood's original, but I suggest you read both, of course.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    Because this is a graphic-novel adaptation of a very well-known and widely read book, I feel like this review shouldn't focus on the plot or characters or the world that's been built; it should instead focus on whether Renee Nault has done an effective job of adapting it all into comic form. In my estimation, she has: the art is wonderful, very appropriate and affecting, and while it couldn't have been easy to cut this story down in a way that makes sense, she's done it. It's been a long time si Because this is a graphic-novel adaptation of a very well-known and widely read book, I feel like this review shouldn't focus on the plot or characters or the world that's been built; it should instead focus on whether Renee Nault has done an effective job of adapting it all into comic form. In my estimation, she has: the art is wonderful, very appropriate and affecting, and while it couldn't have been easy to cut this story down in a way that makes sense, she's done it. It's been a long time since I read The Handmaid's Tale, and I couldn't tell you what Nault has cut, but I can say that what she's left in works very well. Also: It's still a great story. When I read Atwood's novel I was nineteen and was just beginning to educate myself on politics and social issues, so I don't think I grasped it all as well as I did this time around. The parallels to our current culture are evident and the portrayals of how humans react to governmental overrreach feel familiar. Like I said, great story. Great, terrifying story.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    While in Barnes Noble recently picking up a couple classic graphic novels on my to own list, the bookseller says, up front we also have THE HANDMAIDS TALE graphic novel. I said thanks, but the novel wasn't a favorite of mine. She said hers either, she doesn't like dystopian stories, and, of course, I said I loved them, but not that particular one. She said, the book is beautifully done though....and that it is. I walked out with it! So here I am done reading the story for a second time and lovin While in Barnes Noble recently picking up a couple classic graphic novels on my to own list, the bookseller says, up front we also have THE HANDMAIDS TALE graphic novel. I said thanks, but the novel wasn't a favorite of mine. She said hers either, she doesn't like dystopian stories, and, of course, I said I loved them, but not that particular one. She said, the book is beautifully done though....and that it is. I walked out with it! So here I am done reading the story for a second time and loving it and the beautifully illustrated graphics of this horrific dystopian world for women. The fertile women are objects used primarily as a container for procreation, a natural resource of the time in the terrifying Republic of Gilead, and THE HANDMAIDS TALE is primarily Offred's oppressive story of loss, loneliness, grief and the forbidden touch of love. NO talking...NO employment...NO reading...NO friendships. The handmaid's cannot even look at each other, and sneaking around is dangerous and detrimental to your health. The aunts are always watching as are the wives and punishments are brutal....to those unessential parts of the body that don't affect their purpose in life. And even worse....there's the ominous hanging wall visible to all who pass. Note: Illustrations in this graphic novel are colorful and vividly expressive of bringing to life this unsettling dystopian world. Have not yet watched the Netflix movie, but can't wait to see if it ends like the book for Offred (view spoiler)[hopeful, with a possible way out and a chance to find her daughter. (hide spoiler)]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Madison (life uh finds a way)

    Praise be.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Loved it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Stunning imagery. It's amazing how her vision matches how I pictured the setting to be in my own mind, almost exactly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Praise be. The classic Margaret Atwood cautionary tale has finally been adapted as a graphic novel, and it is perfection. The spare art style emphasizes color (especially red and blue) and the facial expressions convey much even when words aren't possible. I really can't say enough about the illustrations: they evoke even more haunting, chilling doom than words alone can achieve. I received an advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley for review consideration.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    While still not a huge fan of the graphic novel form, I'm warming to it. And this is the best one I have read so far. The artwork is of such high quality. It supports the novel well without visually swamping Atwood's very controlled dystopian world. I found myself turning the pages rather obssessively because I was compelled to see what Nault had created next. It was not possible to determine just when this version of The Handmaid's Tale is set. Offred remembers strolling along with Luke, carryin While still not a huge fan of the graphic novel form, I'm warming to it. And this is the best one I have read so far. The artwork is of such high quality. It supports the novel well without visually swamping Atwood's very controlled dystopian world. I found myself turning the pages rather obssessively because I was compelled to see what Nault had created next. It was not possible to determine just when this version of The Handmaid's Tale is set. Offred remembers strolling along with Luke, carrying Starbucks coffee with java jackets, which makes it post-1995. Yet the "electric cattle prods" the Aunts carry look like basic riding crops. In the end it just didn't matter. As futuristic as the novel itself felt when first published in 1986, this horrific and cautionary tale feels even more plausible today. A shocking, sickening state of affairs.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    The content of the novel obviously stood up, and the drawing is appropriately haunting. That said the kinds of advances the TV show brought in terms of reflecting the diversity of women regresses here. Everyone is white and I find that unfortunate, since that was a weakness in the 1987 novel Atwood herself had acknowledged.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shreya

    Terrific in so many ways - but only if one already knows the story inside out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    3.5 stars I know this is a classic but since I haven’t read the original novel, I feel like I didn’t appreciate this as much as I could have. The artwork was bright and bold and brutal in places but overall the frustration and anger I felt toward such a system was just too much and I couldn’t rate it any higher. Plus, I felt pretty depressed throughout the entirety of reading it :/

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The artwork and colouring in this volume perfectly reflect the misery and horror of this story. I am unable to read The Handmaid's Tale as a book, listen to the audiobook, or watch the TV show without crying. This graphic novel provoked the same reaction of anger and sadness. I think that as a woman I empathize so strongly with the characters and I believe it is truly the scariest story ever written. This graphic novel is the perfect complement to the other formats and would be a great introduct The artwork and colouring in this volume perfectly reflect the misery and horror of this story. I am unable to read The Handmaid's Tale as a book, listen to the audiobook, or watch the TV show without crying. This graphic novel provoked the same reaction of anger and sadness. I think that as a woman I empathize so strongly with the characters and I believe it is truly the scariest story ever written. This graphic novel is the perfect complement to the other formats and would be a great introduction into Gilead for newbies.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    The art here is fabulous and the style certainly fits the tone of the book, but I think anyone without familiarity of the novel would be lost on how the story plays out and even more frustrating is the lack of representation. Atwood and the folks behind the television series have rightly been criticized for how white the book is and even with that knowledge prior to the creation of the graphic novel....there are hardly any faces of color throughout.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Renee Nault has done a fantastic job of bringing the stark brutal reality of Gilead to life while keeping the essence of the story unchanged. I do wonder if not having prior knowledge of the story will affect readers views and understanding though, personally I enjoyed this more than the novel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

    The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite classics of all time. I wrote a quick review for it the last time I read it in 2016 in preparation for the television show, so check that out for a more in-depth review. This review will focus on the adaptation of the story for a graphic novel and its illustrations. My biggest complaint with the adaptation is that it didn’t include my favorite quotes of the novel. “You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will make a sound. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite classics of all time. I wrote a quick review for it the last time I read it in 2016 in preparation for the television show, so check that out for a more in-depth review. This review will focus on the adaptation of the story for a graphic novel and its illustrations. My biggest complaint with the adaptation is that it didn’t include my favorite quotes of the novel. “You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will make a sound. This is what I feel like: This sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter." There’s something about this quote that gets me every time. It’s visceral in its description and hard hitting in the emotion being conveyed. When I heard about the adaptation, I started imagining how this quote could be interpreted through images. Unfortunately, it wasn’t included. Though, the quote before it about being buttered is included so that kind of makes up for it. Everything else about the adaptation is executed flawlessly. The illustrations are gorgeous! I’m usually a fan of more clean cut illustrations, but these have a slight sketch component to them. They fit the story well while also communicating the more subtle moments of the novel. Overall, everything about this adaptation is incredible. I’d definitely recommend it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    HoneyAhmad

    Damn best! Love the artwork too

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Several decades ago I had started the novel from which this graphic adaptation is derived. I had trouble getting into the writing style. But it was always in the back of my mind that I would get back to it one of these days. Then recently I saw that there was a graphic novel adaptation newly available. Clearly, this was my access point. It was wonderful. Everything that I was hoping for when I first tried to read it... it's in there. I do love dystopian stories and this certainly a classic - and Several decades ago I had started the novel from which this graphic adaptation is derived. I had trouble getting into the writing style. But it was always in the back of my mind that I would get back to it one of these days. Then recently I saw that there was a graphic novel adaptation newly available. Clearly, this was my access point. It was wonderful. Everything that I was hoping for when I first tried to read it... it's in there. I do love dystopian stories and this certainly a classic - and still very, very topical.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bunni

    I knew i wasn’t going to read the original novel OR watch the show, so when I saw this I thought it might be easier for me and I actually enjoyed it! It reminded me of some abridged Poe stories i used to read. Even though I really like Poe, sometimes I get lost in his words and descriptions. The abridged version made it easier for me to enjoy the plot and the story for itself and not for the language. In a similar vein, it was easier for me to understand the plot in the storyline with this graphi I knew i wasn’t going to read the original novel OR watch the show, so when I saw this I thought it might be easier for me and I actually enjoyed it! It reminded me of some abridged Poe stories i used to read. Even though I really like Poe, sometimes I get lost in his words and descriptions. The abridged version made it easier for me to enjoy the plot and the story for itself and not for the language. In a similar vein, it was easier for me to understand the plot in the storyline with this graphic novel format. I hope they make every classic novel I don’t like into a graphic novel! Forgot to mention this book ALSO broke my cardinal grammar rule and used “should of” instead of SHOULD’VE

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    This story is so terrifying. My second time reading it did nothing to dull the knot in my stomach while I read. The Handmaid’s Tale should be required reading. Margret Atwood is a master, you open this book and you can not put it down until you finish. I seriously can not give enough praise to this masterpiece. The illustrations were beautiful and I really think it added a whole other level to the novel.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bobaphile

    3.5 stars I dont know how to rate this Oof. Haven't read the original Novel but I still enjoyed the Graphic Novel. I loved the imagery and art which I think would warrant the book 4 stars but I felt kind of luke warm at the end.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Tobin

    Loved the artwork. It was very well done. This was my first graphic novel I’ve ever read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    This was an excellent adaptation, but the story was so upsetting. In more ways than one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nay Keppler

    My first exposure to the story in any form and I was blown away and can't stop thinking about it. Now I am eager to read the original and watch the show!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    Praise be. This was most excellently done.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Larsen

    Fantastic graphic adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    I have read The Handmaids Tale and really enjoyed it. I absolutely love the show, so when I saw that there was a graphic novel I needed to read it. This was a great addition to this universe and I highly recommend it. I will say that I recommend that you read the book first because even though this was a great graphic novel, there was obviously a lot missing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melodie Roschman

    The art is gorgeous, but a) I think if you hasn't read the book you'd be totally lost, and b) so much nuance is lost from reducing the amount of text in a book that is all about clinging to words

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    The United States government has been overthrown by a totalitarian religious regime. Women, the LGBTQ community, ethnic minorities, scientists, and many others become extremely oppressed. A woman now known as Offred is a Handmaid, a woman valued only for her fertility. She works for the Commander and his Wife. She does the shopping, some chores, and once a month, she takes place in the Ceremony, where she lies with the Commander in hopes of conceiving a child. But Offred remembers the times befo The United States government has been overthrown by a totalitarian religious regime. Women, the LGBTQ community, ethnic minorities, scientists, and many others become extremely oppressed. A woman now known as Offred is a Handmaid, a woman valued only for her fertility. She works for the Commander and his Wife. She does the shopping, some chores, and once a month, she takes place in the Ceremony, where she lies with the Commander in hopes of conceiving a child. But Offred remembers the times before. When she had a job, money, a child of her own. These memories could get her taken away by the Eyes, but she does not forget. As she wills herself to continue through her life in Gilead, we learn pieces of her story as she conveys terror, dread, oppression, and hope in this new world. I imagine many people know the basic story told in the Handmaid's Tale. I did, even though I have not read the original. I was supposed to in high school but eh, high school. I thought maybe this graphic adaption would be a little easier to digest. And it was, in a way, but it was also haunting in its own right. Nault's illustrations really hit home because, aside from the attire that the women wear, everything looks so damn familiar. The settings, the buildings, the men and people in general. It could be here, now, anywhere. And it is. The illustrations, to me, bring the story to the present in a way the original would have wanted. It speaks of how quickly the world can change, if we let it. Beautifully done. Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the eARC.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    I’ve loved Nault’s work for years; I got to meet her while working at a comics festival in Victoria years ago where I bought a few prints from her. I was so glad to see that she was the one chose by Atwood to adapt her best known work. The art was beautiful and horrifying, with a striking palette of blues and reds. The fact that Nault chose to avoid the TV adaptation at all costs comes across in her depiction of the characters; while this works in the book’s favour 99% of the time, it meant that I’ve loved Nault’s work for years; I got to meet her while working at a comics festival in Victoria years ago where I bought a few prints from her. I was so glad to see that she was the one chose by Atwood to adapt her best known work. The art was beautiful and horrifying, with a striking palette of blues and reds. The fact that Nault chose to avoid the TV adaptation at all costs comes across in her depiction of the characters; while this works in the book’s favour 99% of the time, it meant that she depicted the characters as Atwood described them, which is overwhelmingly white, unlike the TV adaptation’s choice to cast Samara Wiley and other POCs in leading roles. I’m not sure if I would recommend this adaptation to someone who hadn’t already read the book, but as a supplementary text, it was spectacular.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jodie Angold

    Just beautiful and perfect. I already own two copies of the novel and I was interested when I saw this was coming out but when I came across it in the flesh it wowed me. I practically ran to the till to buy it. The art and the adaptation are flawless. The illustrations complement the words so perfectly, with clever and creative little flairs that are just like Atwood's writing. I devoured this in a couple of evenings but I know I'll be enjoying it again and again for years to come. What a beautifu Just beautiful and perfect. I already own two copies of the novel and I was interested when I saw this was coming out but when I came across it in the flesh it wowed me. I practically ran to the till to buy it. The art and the adaptation are flawless. The illustrations complement the words so perfectly, with clever and creative little flairs that are just like Atwood's writing. I devoured this in a couple of evenings but I know I'll be enjoying it again and again for years to come. What a beautiful way to revisit such an amazing story.

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