Nault manages something difficult, which is to make the visual world of Atwood's dystopian Gilead her own…
Look for The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, coming September 2019.
In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive.
Provocative, startling, prophetic, The Handmaid’s Tale has long been a global phenomenon. With this beautiful graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s modern classic, beautifully realized by artist Renée Nault, the terrifying reality of Gilead has been brought to vivid life like never before.
Equal parts gorgeous and horrifying, Nault’s adaptation faithfully follows both the plot and style of Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. Narrator Offred lives in Gilead, a United States that is both unrecognizable and too familiar: the government strips women of their freedom in the name of protecting them, discards the old and infirm, and loves fetuses more than the living. Offred says, “Everything Handmaids wear is red: the color of blood, which defines us.” Nault’s reds are rich and layered watercolors, rust to flame. In one frame, she draws hanged Handmaid bodies as drooping crimson flowers. Nault’s semiabstracted interpretations of traumatic scenes are stronger than the story’s more pedestrian moments, when it’s hard not to feel the flatness of the pale characters’ expressions. Painting life in Gilead’s toxic, war-torn Colonies, Nault takes great advantage of the graphic form. In Atwood’s text, exile is frightening because it is a void. Here the cancer-eaten jaw of an “unwoman” worker is on full display. Atwood fans may shrug at another incarnation of this classic, but it’s skillfully done and likely to appeal to younger readers; the tale’s relevance and Nault’s talent are undeniable. (Mar.)
“Arresting . . . Able to convey some things that text—and even a TV show—never could.”
―The New York Post
“A rich, visceral approach to telling the story.”
“Nault spectacularly transforms lines and color into fear, resignation, desperation, the tiniest glimmers of hope . . . most piercing throughout are her affecting use of color (red—'the colour of blood'—and its portentous hues of orange, crimson, rust) and scale (the indistinguishable handmaids trapped in plain sight). She adds softness when Offred recalls her past, with less-saturated colors for happier memories, thickened, darker lines for the repetitive nightmares.”
―Booklist, starred review
"Nault spectacularly transforms lines and color into fear, resignation, desperation, and the tiniest glimmers of hope."
―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"[Y]ou owe it to yourself to check out Renée Nault's take on the classic dystopian story."
“There is magic in every detail of Ms. Nault’s adaptation, thoughtfulness in each panel, an intentionality about every aspect of it, the costuming, the sets and her interpretation of Gileadean iconography is stark, sometimes shocking and beautifully rendered.”
―Good Men Project
“There’s something about Renee Nault’s art that makes the reader feel both closer to the action and completely, terrifyingly, alone . . . This is the power of graphic novels―the ability to add that extra emotional pull to an already strong story.”
“This is great comics. If you agree that the most basic definition of comics is a fluid dance between words and pictures, you will very likely be struck by the beauty of this book . . . What Nault has done here is stunning.”
―Seattle Review of Books
"Haunting . . . Impossible to look away from."
―The Mary Sue
A worthy adaptation of a legendary and award-winning novel. A tyrannical religious regime has overthrown the U.S. government and reconfigured human roles and identities to severely oppress women, the LGTBQ community, and other marginalized groups. Offred is a handmaid owned by the government for the sole purpose of procreation in a country of widespread infertility. Her existence is a fragile one—a wrong move or a reckless word, and she could be obliterated. Her only escape is her memory, which remains intact and full of scenes from the way her world used to be. She had a career, a husband, and a daughter, and nothing can take those truths from her. Nault's illustrations are haunting and delicately ethereal. It's almost guilt inducing to be so captivated by the beauty of her art, so effectively does it depict the horror of Offred's experiences. At times following the narrative word for word and other times expanding the plot to portray deeper themes of fear, determined resistance, and the complicity of the public, each frame melds with the text until neither can exist without the other. VERDICT A must-read; fans of Atwood, graphic novels, and the TV show adaptation will be particularly invested.—Michael Marie Jacobs, Darlington School, GA
An artist and illustrator takes on the feminist classic.
Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is the most famous work by this celebrated author, and it is widely regarded as a 20th-century masterpiece. Best known for its chilling dystopian premise—much that was once the United States is a theocracy in which fertile women are enslaved for their uteruses—it's also technically brilliant and gorgeously written. The TV series based on the novel has been praised both for its storytelling and its superb visuals. (There's also a 1990 film version, of course, but that was neither a critical nor commercial success.) Nault is, then, working with material that is already familiar to and beloved by scores of readers and viewers. In adapting the text, Nault often chooses to present Atwood's words as written, but what she leaves is what makes the original work sing. For example, on the first page, Nault offers, "We slept in what had once been the gymnasium…," which is also the opening line of the novel. Atwood follows with "The floors were of varnished wood, with stripe and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls...." There is none of this nostalgia and longing in Nault's version—not even the textual elements that could have been communicated in picture form. More troubling is her decision to make Gilead a place inhabited almost entirely by white people. Both Atwood's novel and the Netflix show have been critiqued for how they handle race, but the choice to avoid race at all seems like a poor one in 2019.
For people who prefer graphic novels to all other forms, and probably not for anyone else.
Booker Prize winner Atwood needs no introduction and neither does her classic The Handmaid's Tale, on our minds now more than ever. (Have you been watching Hulu's Golden Globe Award-winning series?) The illustrations in this graphic-format adaptation come form Canadian artist Nault, whose watercolor-and-ink illustrations can be found in books, magazines, newspapers, and advertising worldwide.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)|