The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood, a very well known author with many very good books to her name.  The first book of Atwood’s that I read was The Penelopiad, which I absolutely loved.  After reading that (and seeing some other bloggers on wordpress talk about her books) I decided to check out more of her books and have since read The Handmaid’s Tale and I just finished reading The Blind Assassin.  So now that I’ve finished it here goes my review for The Blind Assassin.

Book Stats

521 pages

Drama (hooray for the catch all category, but this book also has an element of Science Fiction to it)

Stand alone book

Characters

The book is written as a memoir of Iris Chase Griffen as she recounts the early years of her life as well as that of her sister.  Personally, I didn’t find any of the characters in this book particularly memorable.  Iris herself is a very bland person who for most of the book is just along for the ride with what everyone else in her life wants her to do.  None of the characters blew me away in the book, but they were all consistent and worked well for what Atwood was trying to do.

Setting

The book has several different storylines going on at once, but overall the book is set in Toronto in the 1920’s to the 1940’s.

Plot

This was the most unique part of the book, and at times the most annoying.  The essentially has 4 different plots going at the same time.  In one plot, Iris is in her 80’s living in the small town where she grew up, and we see some of her daily activities as she goes through them.  While doing this, she is also writing a memoir of her life, focusing on her early life from when she is a young child until her sister Laura drives a car off of a bridge.  In this story she recounts her life and her family’s financial difficulties leading up to her marriage.  In between these chapters, Atwood also has excerpts from Laura’s posthumously published novel The Blind Assassin.  The Blind Assassin is the story of a young woman who meets her lover in various places throughout the town she lives in, and while they meet he tells her stories of a science fiction world that he has made up.

Enjoyment

This book won the Booker Prize in 2000, and I can understand why it is so highly regarded in the literary community.  Personally though, I thought the book was a little too drawn out for my taste.  The four different storylines did not weave together very effectively for me, and what this amounted to was the novel having an extremely long setup before we got to the final ending.  The ending of the book worked well to bring all of the storylines together, but it was painstaking at times to get there.  There were countless times while reading this book that I had to look ahead to see how many more pages there were until the end of the chapter because I was just getting bogged down with everything that was going on in the book. This is the kind of book where knowing how it ends is essential to really seeing all of the greatness of the book.  This book is a difficult read, and it is really rescued by a good ending that would make a second read through of the book a completely different experience.  For a single reading, I would recommend the book in limited circumstances.

Overall Grade

Not the easiest read, and it won’t be for everyone.  But this book has a very unique way of telling an interesting story, even though it’s a difficult journey to get there.

6/10

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