The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

First of all, this book speaks to my soul. I quote “nothing with a beak can be truly cute”. I hate birds, am terrified of birds and think their beak and eyes and feet are the creepiest things going. Second of all, lets get to this review. I gather this book is set in a not too distant future where the global financial crisis has hit its peak. People are broke and homeless all over the place, looting and fighting for survival. When we meet the two protagonists of the story, Stan and Charmaine, they are living out of their car with Stan jobless and Charmaine working at a dive bar. Life is bleak. Until an opportunity to participate in the Positron Project arises. A social experiment where you live alternate months of comfort in a beautiful home and functioning society and conversely doing time in a prison cell. The offer seems too good to be true for the distressed couple.


Things seem to go well for the couple at the beginning and time passes by quickly. Then actions quickly lead to consequences and the plot takes some different routes. All is not what it seems and Stan and Charmaine are left reeling. The protagonists journey’s through the novel are also very different. Stan appears to start and end the book without much character development. Charmaine on the other hand undergoes  significant changes to her character across the timeline of the book. Atwood creates some unique situations for these characters to overcome and I enjoyed following it all coming together to a neat and tidy ending. I have to say I was surprised at how neatly and happily the ending came together considering the grittiness of the book at times but was quite pleased with it nonetheless.


This was my first foray into Atwood’s novels and I was quickly hooked. Coming from a psychology background I love books that focus on social experiments and how quickly humans can adapt to situations to survive, doing things the would never have imagined to stay alive. This book has many twists and turns with surprises along the way, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I give this book three perfect Positron houses and look forward to trying more of Atwood’s highly acclaimed novels.



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