The past is so much safer, because whatever’s in it has already happened. It can’t be changed; so, in a way, there’s nothing to dread.
Society is falling apart after a financial catastrophe. Charmaine and Stan have lost their jobs and their house, now they sleep in their car and live of Charmaine’s job waitressing. In comes a social experiment for rescue: Consilience offers them a home, security and jobs. The catch is that they have to switch between one month in their new home as ‘normal’ citizens and one month in prison. Of course everything’s corrupted, and both Stan and Charmaine have to face their own and each others’ darker sides and weaknesses as they become the pieces of someone else’s puzzle.
I had a bit of trouble buying into the story and the characters. Everyone was just so sex crazed that it became plain silly. The story is entertaining, but there is nothing mind-blowing about it. And the dystopian society seemed flat to me. I would have liked a more complex society and more interesting characters.
My verdict may be a bit unfair. Had this novel been written by any other author, it may have gotten 4 stars. But this is Margaret Atwood; I know the kind of magic she can pull off, and this one doesn’t come near it. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth reading. I just know she can do better. Especially when I think of the other creative dystopian novels she’s written over the years. In comparison, this one seems flat and trivial.