Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday TimesYoung Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
The Power is a difficult book to rate. On one hand, I enjoyed and appreciated what Alderman was going for, however I found the execution to be less than flawless.
The Power is told through multiple perspectives, though not all perspectives are equal. Alderman’s choice of perspectives is diverse and places the characters in interesting situations, however some cast a long shadow in terms of action and overall enjoyment. For this reason, large swaths of the novel are slow and boring.
Some of the most interesting aspects of the novel are Alderman’s reversal of gender roles/expectations/behaviors. Alderman included many thought provoking scenes and questions within each of the narratives. Imagining a world that discarded patriarchal influences is unique, as I haven’t come across a lot of novels that subvert gender expectations in this matter. Most novels follow Margaret Atwood’s lead creating a total patriarchal society at the expense of women and their choices.
Throughout the novel, Alderman included small drawings of artifacts from the past. Not all of these drawings feel relevant or congruent with the story being told, however they are interesting in their world building effort. I especially liked the inclusion of the drawing that suggested a gender reversal of genital mutilation.
On the other hand, the power dynamics between men and women were over simplified and almost glossed over to move the plot along. I would have enjoyed The Power more had Alderman focused more on the politics and upheaval of patriarchal society.
Overall, The Power communicates an interesting story while making the reader ponder questions about power dynamics between men and women, rape culture, patriarchal society.