The stability they craved becomes the very thing that leads Stan and Charmaine wayward. Both seemingly adapt, but transgression becomes the ever present focus of their minds. And despite being marketed as the ideal community, neither Charmaine nor Stan establish bonds with anyone else in Consilience. Apart from the ever declining interactions between themselves they make no connections, save for the forbidden cavorting with their ‘Alternates’. There is a pastiche of other dystopic works, with hints of The Stepford Wives, a debt to Never Let Me Go, and a dose of Brave New World for good measure. This, along with the Yuppie-inspired Newspeak and plethora of pop culture references, does crowd the narrative. And while the recurrence of 1950s style and icons is effective, with its prim and proper gleefulness covering repressed lust, greed, and longing, the use is far from original and loses much of its ironic heft.
It may not have the bite or depth of Atwood’s earlier works, but The Heart Goes Last has involving characters, enjoyable dark humour, and an entertaining plot.