The Handmaid’s Tale Review and the Importance of Reaction Scenes

The Handmaid's Tale Book ReviewIn today’s episode, I’m reviewing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is not only one of Atwood’s most acclaimed novels, but the basis for the American television show by the same name. If you know anything about Margaret Atwood, you know she has a flair for dark, gritty, and utterly captivating dystopian and speculative fiction with a political or feminist slant. Sound intriguing? It is. But in order to get her ideas across effectively, it’s important to have good characters and story structure as well – and that’s exactly what I wanted to explore when I picked up this book.

Additionally, I’m taking a few minutes to talk about the importance of action and reaction scenes in novels. If you’ve ever read a book or watched a show and came away thinking “Wow, I don’t care about those people at all,” it’s possible the story failed to find its action/reaction stride. This not only applies to the individual scenes in your book (how they flow and push the story forward), but it also relates to the relationship between your book’s first and second half.

Books mentioned in this episode:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

PS – I also mention “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” but I’m talking about the movie, not the French comic book “Empire of a Thousand Planets.”

5 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale Review and the Importance of Reaction Scenes

  1. Another excellent episode! Really.
    I have neither read nor seen The Handmaid’s Tale, but had been curious about it. My completely uninformed notions about that story were all way, WAY off. Certainly sounds interesting.
    As for Action/Reaction, I do have an additional thought. Even though we’re mostly discussing books and storytelling, this also has a very practical application in film and cinematography (I believe). Allow me to explain.
    The Lord of the Rings movies are great–that’s a nearly universally accepted fact. The Hobbit movies pale in comparison, for a number of reasons (although I personally love them as well). One often-overlooked explanation has to do with action/reaction in the cinematography. If you watch LOTR, you’ll notice in action sequences that there are many, many shots of the heroes’ faces. For example, at Balin’s tomb, when the troll bursts into the room, you get a reaction shot of different characters’ faces. The Hobbit had far fewer “reaction” shots breaking up their action sequences, which made the heroes’ plights more distant to the viewer.
    Anyways, that was my thought. Thanks, and happy holidays!

    1. Thank you! And I highly recommend the Handmaid’s Tale. I’m still not done with the show, but the book was pretty great and kind of took my by surprise. I couldn’t put it down. And I couldn’t agree more about the Hobbit movies vs. LOTR. In general, it’s easier to spot movies that lack reaction because they move faster than books. I wonder if LOTR had an easier action / reaction cadence because they were dealing material that already existed – there was so much backstory that didn’t make it into the movies but still bolstered the reactions because it was in the back drop. With the Hobbit movies, they were creating so many mew subplots it was probably more difficult to create the same impact with a simple glance at the heroes’ faces, etc. All that to say, I definitely apply the same storytelling expectations to moves as I do books.

  2. This is such an original way to do a review! It is like half YouTube and half blogger XD Great idea!

    I have seen this title around so much and I have wanted to read it since I saw people talking about Hulu XD

    Thank you for sharing! Keeping an eye on your amazing blog!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I discovered the somewhat niche world of podcast book reviews last year and couldn’t stop listening, so it seemed like a fun medium to try out myself! I highly recommend the book. I’m still not finished with the show, but I can say that it’s very well made and, in some ways, a good representation of the novel. Then again, the book is pretty short so I think they took a few liberties with subplots (making them longer, adding content, etc.) – so I can’t say with 100% certainty that I like the show as much as the book.

      1. We bookdragons haha usually rather the books over the movies, and that is completely normal. I have never in my life heard a podcast hmmm but now, I will be hearing you and you will be the first one! <3 haha I have only seen the title on Kindle I have come across it in paperback, but thank you very much for the info! I will totally keep an eye on the book… I don't want to be behind with the mainstream! haha

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