ISBN-13: 9780385540353
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 29 September 2015
Format: eBook, 320 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Margaret Atwood's latest novel, The Heart Goes Last, take us to a near future where jobs are scarce and social security becomes another threat. However, there's an answer to these problems and one could sign up to live in Consilience and has a new life and a job there. The only things to sacrifice is leaving the outside world (so-called the real unpleasant world) and giving up one's freedom every second month in Positron (a prison cell in Consilience but unlike other prisons, Positron generates optimism and creates fairness to the 'residents' living in Consilience so they will experience the good and the 'bad' and so all is equal and balanced.) The other condition is a married couple will be assigned to live in the same house together with another couple (called the 'Alternates') but they are forbidden to see and/or interact with each other since a couple will stay in Consilience and the other will stay in Positron for a month and vice versa. 

Our protagonists, Stan and Charmaine, think this offer is too good to be true. After all, they are jobless and they live in their car and who knows what happens if they continue to hide in their car and be sitting ducks for the robbers and rapists. So they signed up and hope for the best. In the beginning, they are happy but things get mundane and bored until one day Stan found a note in their house - a love message addressing to Max from Jasmine. This little note has made Stan's mind wander, and the more he wanted to know her in person. 

Charmaine, on the other hand, finds herself attracted to Max, one of their Alternates, when he returns to their house early one day and found Charmaine there. That chance encounter leads to an infidelity that would destroy their marriages, thus begins the main plot of revenge, manipulation and ultimately, a plan that surprises the readers as well. 

If you are a fan of Atwood's, you'd know that her stories are usually intricate and imaginative; and can be both scary and thought-provoking at times. Well, this story is no exceptional. This story made me think how true it is given today's  economy and how joblessness can lead to one's desperation and depression. What Consilience offers seems like a perfect plan but it isn't without loopholes. What's ugly about Consilience/Positron is not about their strict rules and regulations but a human's greed and desires which made them to overturn protocols. Then again, there's also humanity, the sense of responsibility and righteousness and most of all, the 'heart goes last' that says a lot about the sentimentality and values of one's love and emotions that allows hope and second chance. 

I was really intrigued by the first part of the story; the deeds Charmaine and Stan have done made one thinks of a fatal attraction movie. The second part seemed a bit bizarre to me, but it was also where the pace began to pick up its momentum and where all the actions are. Some of them seemed horrific, and some seemed... did I mention bizarre? Nevertheless, it was an absorbing read. After all, it's Margaret Atwood's. 
8 Responses
  1. Kay Says:

    Hmmm....I'll have to think about this one. I've only ever read one book by Margaret Atwood - Alias Grace - loved it, but never read others. You make it sound very appealing though. :-)

  2. jenclair Says:

    I've enjoyed some of Atwood's and been less enthusiastic about others. This one sounds really tense, but I'm not sure that I need more tension right now. :) I am curious, though!

  3. This does sound really intense! It's been a few years since I've read any Atwood...not really sure why as I've loved everything that I've read. Somehow I kind of like the idea of a book that has such great pacing but also makes you feel highly uncomfortable--knowing Atwood, that was her point. Great post Melody!

  4. Melody Says:

    Kay - This book reminds me a bit like The Handmaid's Tale. Atmospheric in a different way and you couldn't help but to draw into it, despite the subjects.

  5. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Me too, Jenclair. Some of her books are great reads while some are just strange. This one was OK but it falls into the latter category.

  6. Melody Says:

    Trish - Yes, it was an intense story and so different from what I've read lately. It's a good change though...

    I liked The Handmaid's Tale; this one was simply... I couldn't think of a word to describe it. But then, that's Margaret Atwood and what makes her books so original and different from others. :)

  7. This sounds so interesting! And different. I have only read one book by Margaret Atwood and I was really impressed with her writing. I do want to read more by her at some point.

  8. Melody Says:

    Wendy - Indeed it is, Wendy! As I mentioned, it kind of reminds me of The Handmaid's Tale but different. I hope you'll enjoy it if you get to it.

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