A year or so ago I was with my roommate grabbing coffee and saw another friend of mine, Jess, working on an assignment about The Handmaid’s Tale. She touted it as one of her favorite books so I immediately picked it up. While I agree with Jess that The Handmaid’s Tale is good, I personally think that the sequel – The Testaments – is better.
The Handmaid’s Tale is great at world-building; The Testaments takes this world and completely runs with it. While the former develops characters, the latter has action. I don’t believe you could really have the second without the first, but the second was a beneficial add to the overarching story. I’m always hesitant to have a sequel, especially after a few decades of The Handmaid’s Tale as a stand-alone, and was happily surprised.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the story follows a woman who was in “normal” America prior to it’s becoming Gilead. She has memories of her past, her family, and her freedoms while she’s adjusting to her life here as a handmaid – a euphemism for forced surrogacy. In The Testaments you follow four separate storylines that intertwine during a quest trying to overthrow Gilead. All are strong characters with the will to fight for what they believe and know to be true.
I’d recommend these two books to anyone; they’re great additions to any collection. While the first book was written decades ago and the second at the end of the 2010s, they both hold truths about or society today. Be sure to read the author notes before and after, as well!