When it comes to dystopians, Margaret Atwood reigns supreme! From The Handmaid’s Tale to her absolutely stunning Madaddam series, Atwood’s exploration of human nature and the degradation of society is always thought-provoking and clever. Her upcoming novel is no different. A combination and expansion of 4 short stories written back in 2012 and 2013, The Heart Goes Last explores the true meaning of free-will, and mankind’s inevitable corruption during times of drastic economic collapse.
The story focuses on Stan and Charmaine, a young married couple who have lost their jobs and been evicted from their home due to a serious worldwide financial crisis. Now forced to sleep in their small car with the threat of gangs, drug addicts, and rapists breaking in every night, Stan and Charmaine are desperate to change their living situation. When Charmaine sees an ad for Positron, a new social experiment that provides free housing and guaranteed employment, the opportunity is too good to ignore.
Of course, this utopia isn’t without it’s downsides. In exchange for a life of comfort off the streets, the residents of Positron must agree to spend every other month in prison, and give up any contact they have with the outside world. Despite this clear drawback, Charmaine and Stan willingly join the project, eager to finally have some sort of stability in their lives. As you would expect from Atwood, things in this perfect world quickly fall apart, revealing a darker side to the Positron project that few of the residents seem to know about.
So will The Heart Goes Last live up to the expectations of Atwood’s many fans? While it is well-written, fast paced and thought-provoking, the story and characters aren’t quite as gripping as some of her previous books. Nevertheless, it was a really enjoyable read, and the ending (although somewhat predictable), left me contemplating the true extent of our human free-will, and the ability for love to last through even the darkest of circumstances.
The Bottom Line: The intrigue of the plot will keep you turning the pages, and The Heart Goes Last will entertain fans of the Maddadam series, just don’t expect to love it as much as her other books.
Rating: 4 Stars