The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel)

Margaret Atwood

Nan A. Talese (2019)

Plot Summary

In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive.


  • School Library Journal (May, 2019): “A worthy adaptation of a legendary and award-winning novel. [...] Nault’s illustrations are haunting and delicately ethereal. It’s almost guilt inducing to be so captivated by the beauty of her art, so efectively does it depict the horror of Ofred’s experiences. At times following the narrative word for word and other times expanding the plot to portray deeper themes of fear, determined resistance, and the complicity of the public, each frame melds with the text until neither can exist without the other. [...] A must-read.”

  • The Seattle Review of Books (Apr. 4, 2019): “[L]et’s be clear: this is great comics. [...] It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this skilled an adaptation into comics form. [...] What Nault has done here is stunning: she has taken a story that has verged on overexposure in recent years, and she has breathed fire into it.”

  • New York Post (Mar. 25, 2019): “[A]rresting watercolor illustrations... able to convey some things that text — and even a TV show — never could.”

  • Publishers Weekly (Feb. 8, 2019): “Equal parts gorgeous and horrifying, Nault’s adaptation faithfully follows both the plot and style of Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. [...] [S]killfully done and likely to appeal to younger readers; the tale’s relevance and Nault’s talent are undeniable.”

Toronto Star (Mar. 21, 2019): “[A] rich, visceral approach to telling the story.”


Response to Challenges


Author Margaret Atwood, on the banning of The Handmaid's Tale in Leander (TX) schools: “I had thought America was against totalitarianisms. If so, surely it is important for young people to be able to recognize the signs of them. One of those signs is book-banning. Need I say more?” (Katie Couric Media)

In an open letter to the Leander (TX) school board after Citizens Curriculum Advisory Committee removed more than 20 titles from student book club reading lists, authors represented on the list said: “We believe in the capacity of these and all books to expand the reader’s frame of reference—challenging them to confront new ideas and allowing them to explore other perspectives.” The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel was one of the books removed, alongside I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Speak: The Graphic Novel. (Marshall Libraries)

Gabrielle Chloe Reilly, in an opinion piece for The George-Anne Inkwell: “This book teaches us that even if it goes against the norm and the rest of society, we must fight for what’s right. [...] Reading this book was life-changing. Although scary, it taught me all the lessons about standing your ground.” (The George-Anne Inkwell)

Emily O'Neal, co-chair of the Oregon Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee, on why retaining Atwood's original novel does not make up for removing the graphic adaptation: “Graphic novels are known to be a special and important learning tool for…those that are having reading dificulties... If you think of folks that are reading-delayed or dyslexic, having that graphic novel version helps them gain context and better understand what it is that they’re reading. So, we actually do have some concern about equity in the removing of the graphic novel version of this title.” (Daily Beast) (Jeferson Public Radio)



“The Handmaid's Tale.” (2019, Feb. 8). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 16, 2022 from

Brown, R. (2019, Mar. 25). “‘The Handmaid's Tale’ gets the graphic novel treatment.” New York Post.

Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

Constant, Paul. (2019, Apr. 4). “Thursday Comics Hangover: The Handmaid's Comic.” The Seattle Review of Books. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from mic/

Dundas, D. (2019, Mar. 21). “The Handmaid's Tale graphic novel lets illustrator Renee Nault find room for her own ideas.” Toronto Star. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from lustrator-renee-nault-find-room-for-her-own-ideas.html

Howard, B.L. (2022, Jun. 30). “Oregon School's Ridiculous Battle Over ‘Handmaid's Tale’ Ends With Book Ban.” The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from ok-ban

Jacobs, M. (2019, May). "The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel)." School Library Journal, 65(4), 110. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

Neumann, E. (2022, June 2022). “Medford School District book removal amounts to ‘censorship,’ says state library association.” Jeferson Public Radio. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from orship-says-state-library-association

Reilly, G.C.. (2022, Sept. 23). “(Opinion) Banned Book Week: The Handmaid's Tale.” The George-Anne Inkwell. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

Taneja, S. (2022, Aug. 12). “These Were the Most Commonly Banned Books in America in 2021.” Katie Couric Media. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from


Book Resume created by Virginia Library Association and PDSAL