[Book Review] The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin / Margaret Atwood

I really wanted to do some Atwood, and while much of what she writes is regular literary fiction, some of it does fit within SF/F, or general Speculative Fiction.  I made a deliberate choice not to do The Handmaid's Tale (instead choosing The Core of the Sun), and I didn't really feel like re-reading Oryx and Crake, or using the second book in the series as a book club pick.  So, I stumbled across The Blind Assassin which teased of a historical fiction with a science fiction story intertwined.  So there we go, a June read.

Yeah, I'm writing the review in August.  It took me a bit to get through this one.

I've come to discover that with most of Atwood's novels the first half tends to slog for me, then somewhere around halfway through they pick up and suddenly become significantly more interesting.  That definitely proved true here, at least for my experience.  The "science fiction story" was less than I was hoping for as well, but an interesting vehicle for part of the narrative.

The Blind Assassin starts with the account of the narrator's sister driving off a bridge, and from there wends its way through the Iris' life growing up, a young woman, and as an old woman telling her story before her days run out.  That story includes the illicit meeting of two lovers, one of whom spins fantastical tales of aliens and future civilizations.

I personally felt it was trying to hard to play to one assumption while very clearly being something else all along, and would have liked to have been a little more surprised.  I have to say, while I admire Atwood's literary skill, and am a big fan of some of her work, for the most part I find that Sheri S. Tepper better provides what I'm looking for.

Discussion Fodder:
  • What assumptions/predictions did you make as you read the story?  How did the align with the results?  
  • In what ways does the narrative, and the narrator, attempt to deceive the reader?
  • Does the science fiction story reflect on the lover's lives?  In what ways?
  • How does the story talk about the assumptions and world views we apply to others?
  • Various crimes and accusations are laid at the feet of different characters.  Which are true, how many are convenient targets?

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