The Heart Goes Last

10 CDs. 12:11 hrs. Books on Tape. 2015. ISBN 9781101924785. $45. digital download. F
Newlyweds Stan and Charmaine were passed over by the American dream. An economic collapse (an extreme fictionalization of the 2008 financial crisis) made jobs scarce and plunged once pleasant suburban communities into squalor. After losing their home, Stan and Charmaine are living in their car and fighting off looters. The couple are so desperate for a better life that they join the experimental community of Consilience, despite it being painfully obvious that Consilience is too good to be true. After a promising beginning, Atwood's narrative soon shows the strain of being an expanded compilation of five previously published serial novellas. Listeners will be surprised to find that what first appears to be speculative fiction in the vein of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale devolves into a campy sexual farce complete with sadomasochism and men lusting after chickens. Unfortunately, the characters aren't fascinating enough to sustain the sharp left turn, especially for the 12 hours of this audiobook's run time. Mark Deakins and Cassandra Campbell narrate Stan's and Charmaine's alternating chapters effectively.
VERDICT Atwood's popularity is likely to lead to high demand in public libraries. Fans of the author's "MaddAddam" trilogy may enjoy.
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