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The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last

by Margaret Atwood
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Format: Kindle/ ARC

Published: Sept. 29th 2015 by Nan A. Talese

Genre: Dystopia/ Sci-fi/ Contemporary

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"Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over." -Goodreads

Review: (May contain spoilers)

“Be the person you’ve always wanted to be, they’d said at Positron. Is this the person she’s always wanted to be?” (loc. 1490)

The Heart Goes Last is sort of a situational dystopian sci-fi. I say “situational” because the characters chose to enter in what they believed to be a Utopia (a quick fix, per se) that revealed itself as really a dystopian society.

“That didn’t last, though. The happiness. The safeness. The now.” (loc. 273)

The beginning started off well enough, though it was a bit tedious reading about Stan and Charmaine’s day to day life of being down-in-the-dumps and living in a car, at least it made sense. It soon turned weird after they entered the Consilience/Positron project, as it basically turned into the fantasies and sex lives of several people. Unless the constant sexual fantasies and actions were a metaphor or symbol  for something else (maybe greed? I don’t know,) it made no sense and did not contribute to the book at all. Just when I didn’t think the plot could get any more weirder, it gets even more ridiculous in the end, with Stan and his stint as an Elvis impersonator.

“‘Every day is different. Isn’t it better to do something because you’ve decided to? Rather than because you have to.’” (loc. 5488)

In all, the premise of the book sounded great, with an environment that mirrored the Stanford Prison experiment, I was pumped to read a thrilling dystopian sci-fi. However, it went by the wayside as I didn’t feel like there was any continuity in the book, and it was like several different stores being told at once. This book sort of felt like a psychedelic George Orwell, and it left me with no respect, or care, for any of the characters and their bizarre situations. I really wish the plot was more cohesive, and although I’m sure there some people this book would resonate with, it was unfortunately not for me.


Galley provided by Edelweiss via Random House Doubleday

*Quotes are from uncorrected advanced galleys and may change before going to press. Please refer to the final printed book for official quotes.

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