The Heart Goes Last; Margaret Atwood
Random House Audio and Nan Talese - 2015
Stan and Charmaine are a 30-something couple, once considered middle-class, who have lost everything in a downturn of the economy. Now unable to find meaningful work, they are living in their old Honda, sleeping with one-eye-open, always on the lookout for others who might be out to harm them. Charmaine works at a seedy bar for food and gas money and on occasion Stan tries to sell his blood for cash.
One day they see an ad on a television that seems to be speaking to them ----asking viewers --"are you tired of living in your car -- remember what your life used to be like, it can be that way again."
Tired of watching the economy and life crumble around them, Stan and Charmaine decide to sign on as part of a social experiment called The Positron Project which seems like a highly desirable alternative to their current lifestyle. The rules are strict, people who sign on for experiment don't get to leave. Participants are closed off from the world outside the compound and there's no internet access either. There are behavior expectations and consequences for unacceptable behavior as well.
The population alternates in and out of twin cities of Positron and Consilience. One month they live in nice suburban homes and the following month they work at the prison, doing time now while buying time for their future. Charmaine gets an impressive sounding job at the prison, Chief Medications Administrator for "special procedures", but it's the type of procedure you hope you won't need.
A cautionary tale, the author does a great job of helping the reader envision an at times all too plausible scenario. Some is far-fetched for sure, but this is what made me smile, laugh and even breath a sigh of relief for satire -- satire at its best.
The audiobook is very fast paced and engaging. The story is very easy to follow in both audio and print format. Cassandra Campbell and Mark Deakins do a fantastic job as narrators. [ I wasn't aware before starting this book that there were a few very short prequels to this novel. Honestly, I don't feel like me not reading them lessened my enjoyment of this novel in any way.
(audiobook from publisher)