Book Review: Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

A young married couple tries to survive social upheaval in a world post-economic collapse embroiled in turmoil. Forced to live in their car on cheery Charmaine’s meager wages earned during slow shifts at the sleazy bar PixelDust while her friends turn tricks in one of the cleverly named corners, somewhat more cynical Stan vigilantly drives around to avoid being pillaged by roving gangs, who keep them from ever getting a good night’s sleep, and entertains hooking up with his long shunned brother Con when a unique opportunity presents itself. The Positron Project proposes a solution in the form of a working prison system/gated community, where selected applicants spend one month working a job selected for them and living in a project funded home, with living behind bars in the Positron prison, intermingled with inmates from outside, who spend their entire lives behind bars. The idea is for the alternating prisoners to model good behavior for those doing real time and appeals instantly to Charmaine, who sees a stable life and a secure future in the venture. Against the advice of his brother, Stan reluctantly goes along. Each find themselves challenging the core of who they really are, and how solid their relationship really is, after they become accepted into The Positron Project and a dark world beyond their imaginings. Told with her characteristic sharp wit and dry humour, a perfect balance for the more serious and bleak scenarios Atwood envisions for our very near future.

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