The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood


“Oblivion is increasingly attractive to the young, and even to the middle-aged, since why retain your brain when no amount of thinking can even begin to solve the problem?”

Date Completed: January 20 2016
Page Length: 308

The quote I chose for this post  didn’t jump out at me when reading The Heart Goes Last however, on rereading it in isolation I realised it touched on an issue of modern society that has troubled me for some time… Apathy. A lot of writers, bloggers, journalists have commented on the state of apathy in today’s youth and even middle aged so I won’t go into it except in relation to the novel.

While I found The Heart Goes Last an enjoyable read I struggled at times to understand the point. I felt a lot of the dystopian tropes and moral quandaries to be ones I’d seen before. Perhaps that doesn’t matter, because perhaps that isn’t the point. Perhaps in freeing itself from attempts to do something new in Sci Fi it’s saying something new about society. At first I tried to find something to challenge my beliefs about body politics and mind control and came up short. With reflection on the above quote and the ultimate resolution of the novel I’ve decided that (for me) the crux of the novel is about apathy. Apathy in relationships and apathy in society, and how we would rather deny our own agency than take on the overwhelming task of making a difference (a difference that doesn’t even seem possible). Because it’s easier to believe we have no choice.

So while I was initially dissatisfied when I finished The Heart Goes Last I wasn’t able to stop thinking about it since, and isn’t that the sign of a good novel.

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