This review includes spoilers, you've been forewarned.
Having read The Handmaid's Tale in 2017 and watched the TV adaptation (and then the subsequent series 2) - the world of Gilead was still petty fresh in my mind.
The Testaments, as the outline says, picks up 15 years after the Handmaid's Tale. The book uses the records of three characters' account to recount Gilead in it's more mature state.
It's Aunt Lydia's account that I really enjoyed. The character in The Handmaid's Tale was pretty horrible and tricky to relate to, but I felt like the TV series somehow added a much more complex layer to Aunt Lydia and now The Testaments gives her a voice, and I love it.
Aunt Linda tells of the time the Gilead comes into being and how she came to hold such a powerful position.
What's particularly brutal and scary about The Testaments and the stories of Gilead's inception is how it skims so closely to our own reality with its own fear of the different and long time brewing of hatred, racism, sexism and homophobia. It doesn't take a great leap to see our own reality take a turn like this to result in a repressive state such as Gilead.
The real only glimmer of hope is that, like The Handmaid's Tale, the story is being recounted in the future inside of an academic environment and lessons are to be learnt the same way we might study Nazi Germany. The Testaments has the same reflection and study of a society that has ended.
The Testaments both looks at Gilead's time of creation but also it's downfall.
I found the book to be a really enjoyable, challenging read. I also definitely benefitted having had The Handmaid's Tale in recent memory. I'd highly recommend.
Others I've read in the "The Handmaid's Tale" series: