I didn’t actually finish Eve, but I read enough to know that it’s basically a watered down, young adult version of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Both stories are set in a future where the population has dropped so low that the authorities have resorted to drastic measures, reducing women to nothing more than breeding machines to ensure that humanity does not become extinct.
Though the two books deal with a similar theme, the tone and mood of the stories are vastly different. A Handmaid’s Tale is emotionally draining, as many of the events in the story are ugly and painful. It’s a difficult book to read, and the experience will make you feel as raw as if someone’s scoured you with sandpaper. Still, the emotional power of The Handmaid’s Tale makes it one of the most unforgettable stories I’ve ever read.
In contrast, Eve has a much lighter feel – in my opinion, too light. That’s not to say there aren’t horrors in the world in which Eve lives; there’s plenty of nasty stuff that goes on as a result of the population crisis. Little boys are enslaved and forced to perform backbreaking labor 14 hours a day. Wild animals and even wilder men roam the abandoned streets, awaiting defenseless victims. Teenage girls are imprisoned in asylums where they are strapped to tables and forced to gestate and give birth again and again until their bodies give out. And yet, somehow, the emotional punch that the book should pack just isn’t there.
The problem is that the terrors in the book are relegated to the background rather than being made the central story. Much of the novel focuses on silly, inconsequential “conflicts” between Eve and her love interest, or Eve and her former schoolmate. There’s too much lightness and fluff, too many scenes that don’t further the plot and that undermine the seriousness of the book. As a result, the stakes don’t feel very high, and any power the story could have had drains away.
For that reason, I would recommend The Handmaid’s Tale over Eve any day of the week. It’s better written, much more compelling, and guaranteed to change the way you look at the world. That being said, I do want to add a disclaimer – The Handmaid’s Tale has some mature content that might not be suitable for all readers. Those who can’t stomach books that include strong language and graphically portray sexual exploitation may find Eve the better choice for them after all.