Book Review: The Blind Assassin

I finished The Blind Assassin on the bus yesterday. I was totally that freak who was praying that all the lights turned red, so I had enough time to get to the ending. I’m everyone’s favorite bus rider!

The Blind Assassin

I don’t think I enjoyed this one quite as much as The Handmaid’s Tale — but then again, it may be too soon to tell. It seems Atwood’s books kind of need to “sink in” with me. They’re complicated, and WHOA. The Blind Assassin was no exception. First you have a narrative that spans…what, 30 years? And then you put a novel within a novel within a novel…and just, whoa. This thing gets dense fast. But it also shows what an amazing writer Atwood is, because it totally works. I admit to being 100% confused throughout the first 50 pages or so, but if you stick with it, it’s worth the payoff.

Looking back at it, none of the characters are actually all that likeable. Let’s face it, Alex Thomas? Kind of an asshole. Yeah, he’s under a lot of pressure, yadda yadda yadda — asshole. Iris herself — you sympathize with it, but she’s not exactly warm and cuddly, is she? Laura is probably the most likeable person in the book, but even she… well, admit it, if you knew her in real life, she’d drive you crazy.

(Side note: I would totally read a Lizard Men of Xenor book.)

I can see why writers love this book. Aside from the dizzying plot structure, the eloquent writing — in a lot of ways it seems to be a book about words. Laura is a literal creature, she takes words at face value. In the end, words are her undoing. And Richard — one could say that words bring about his end, too. Iris only really gains power once she gets the book published. So of course we writers like it. It validates what we do.

One thing’s for sure: I need to get more Atwood into my life. Probably won’t be my next read — these books seem to be heavy, I think spacing them out is wise — but there will be more.

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