This book is mean. This book is brutal. This book is angry and bitter and designed to tear your soul apart.
It seems at first like a novel. Then it seems like a collection of connected short stories. Then you realize that it's really a bunch of fairy tales - but not Disney fairy tales, the old ones that are violent and awful and meant to scare the shit out of you.
Horrible violence - both emotional and physical - is what drives all of this. I once thought Cujo was bad until I read Atwood talking in detail about a dog slowing eating the dick of a man in this tome.
When I was about halfway through I thought she was trying to settle old scores with other writers - because writers are, more often than not, the victims of her horrible brutality.
By the end, however, I realized that it's an attack on her entire generation. She thinks the Baby Boomers failed and deserve a nasty death.
This is best summed up in the final fairy tale set about 10 years or so in the future (at a point where the wealthy Baby Boomers are all in retirement communities.) The Millennials start out by just killing old Baby Boomers on the street. Then, they go further and put them under siege in their gated communities and wait until they starve to death. Later they set them on fire.
The Baby Boomers turn to my generation for help but we tell them to fuck off. In fact, on CNN a Gen X person says that torturing and killing Baby Boomers is "understandable, considering the challenges and provocations and, to speak quite frankly, the shambles, both economic and environmental, that those, say, under 25, are saddled with."
Eventually, members of Gen X dance while they watch their parents burn.
The whole thing starts out with a 66 year old woman who is half J.K. Rowling and half George R. R. Martin going batshit insane and clearly unable to finish her long running fantasy series before she dies. The description of her at ComiCon being interviewed by a guy in a Klingon mask is really funny.
Her satire of Stepehn King is also very funny. But , funny is not something that happens often in this book.
We get a real vampire who dies in a really awful way. We get people who know vampires being horrified at how they are portrayed in True Blood and Twilight. We get people who die and then have their souls transported into the bodies of dogs.
Every fairy tale ends in a way that will make you shudder.
In some ways the book reads like a suicide note. In other ways it simply reads like someone saying "Fuck You" to a generation she is not proud to be a member of.