The characters and circumstances in Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last creeped and crawled under my skin, and I both loved and hated the roller-coaster ambivalence I felt toward Atwood’s dystopian near-future and the people in it. It served as a gorgeous example of how powerful it can be to avoid describing a protagonist’s character or qualities and, instead, to let your reader be the judge.
As I eavesdropped on the lives and thoughts of Charmaine and Stan, I assessed them as I would a stranger on the street and projected my judgements onto them—only to have these projections blown away by the unexpected bits of darkness and light lurking beneath. I empathized as often as I shuddered in revulsion. The protagonists and their choices were surprising, and there was absolutely no guessing the twists and turns awaited me on the next page. It was terrible, naughty, and deliciously perverse.
What did you think? And who did you love-hate most?
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