The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood is a wild, dark, romp of a book. In this crazy world, Stan and Charmaine are down on their luck. They have done everything they should and followed every rule, but Stan lost his job and they ran out of money. So now they find themselves forced to sleep in their car, half-awake and ready to speed off to avoid raping and pillaging gangs of hoodlums only slightly worse off then they are. They barely scrape by on Charmaine’s bartending tips. And so when Charmaine hears about a settlement called Consilience that promises safety, food, and housing, she is determined that she and Stan should go. But Stan’s good-for-nothing brother, Conor, shows up and warns Stan that no one leaves, except in a box.
They join anyhow, signing away their lives for safety, 3 squares, and some really fluffy white towels. They don’t even seem to mind that every other month, they’re prisoners in Positron, Consilience’s solution to unemployment. As Stan and Charmaine grow used to safety and become bored, we get to know their darker sides better, and discover the truly twisted side of Consilience.
The strength of this novel is in the writing. It is tightly written, with a wry, satirical bite. If you’ve enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s books in the past, this one is a bit of a departure in that it is unabashedly, pointedly, crazy-like-a-fox nuts. And while this book is not quite as subtle as some of Atwood’s past work, perhaps that fits the world she’s launching this book into. So you can read The Heart Goes Last and worry what we’re all about to become, or you can go watch another cat video; ponder the sustainability of our global economy, or order up something you don’t really need on Amazon. Or take up knitting. Your choice!