Margaret Atwood is a master of creating worlds that are at once vividly appealing in their detail, and also shockingly horrific in their reality. Her sense of the dystopic future of our culture rings true because it begins from where we are and follows strands of behavior or thought to their logical conclusions. Whether it is the environmental devastation of The Year of the Flood, or the twisted religious imprisonment of The Handmaid's Tale, her stories are chilling in their possibility of coming true.
These books make for very mature reading, as they explore the violence we do to one another psychologically, sexually, and physically. Yet, for older readers, they are important glimpses into the possible futures of America, as we drift increasingly into religious fundamentalism, endless war, and bottomless consumerism. The Handmaid's Tale is a wonderful read for students in 11th and 12th grade, and would make excellent fodder for SAT essay writing.