The Power - Naomi Alderman

It's hard to escape a book when it's being praised by everyone under the sun, and that's exactly what happened with Naomi Alderman's 'The Power', so naturally, this had to be a fixture on our bookshelf...
Let's have the blurb, shall we?
What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power?

In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. 

But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power--they can cause agonizing pain and even death. 

And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

The Blonde Bookworm review:

Naomi Alderman’s ‘The Power‘, which recently won the 2017 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, creates this world perfectly for you. Told through the eyes of four narrators, you are sucked into a world where women are suddenly aware of a power within them, one that is exclusive to those with XX chromosomes. This power allows women to electrify those around them using their ‘skein’, generating energy that changes the course of the world around them.

Women are the dominant gender, ruling the world with their shock waves, men cowering when they see them. It shows civilisation’s turn on men, humiliating them and stripping them of all power to ensure they are clear who runs the world (girls…) It is a shift in cultural power that the reader eventually understands is not about gender at all, but the darkness of power and dictatorship. The Power illustrates that regardless of gender, once the greed of power overtakes you, there is no limit to what the human psyche is capable of.

Focussing on the stories of Mafia daughter Roxy,  abused orphan turned religious leader Allie (aka Mother Eve), male narrator Tunde and the ambitious political figure Margot, we are taken on a journey that covers gender inequality, religious undercurrents, female friendships, and ultimately the abuse of a power that could have been used so differently.

All characters have their back stories divulged to the reader, a plethora of difference is clearly illustrated, all combined by this abuse of power that leaves them longing for a new world. Using female narrators to describe the world, matched with a male perspective from Tunde, really draws the reader in, and all the voices tremble as they try to survive.

Alderman’s world shows that ‘teenage girls can wake this thing up in older women’, as the youth are the first to discover the current of power soaring through their body. One character is described as ‘eighty years old, and the tears run down her face as she does it again and again’ upon discovering her own power. This metaphor for the youth forcing change in the current world, stirring up dulled down oppression in older women, and making them realise that they do not have to accept a world where they are second best stirs excitement in the reader. It shows us that the gender inequalities we have chosen to ignore is not a world we should accept, and the fiery nature of teenage girls is not one to be ignored. 

To read The Power is to read a novel that is focused on gender initially, but finishes almost as a comment of the sociology and psychology of human nature. ‘Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn’t. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it’s hollow’. Alderman explores a world where the initial electrifying excitement of change is dampened by the realisation that no one knows how to properly utilise this for good, with dictatorships and brutal murders a frequent occurrence in the novel. It forces the reader to confront the morality of the world we live in, and this parallel universe as one that could easily be real.

Naomi Alderman’s The Power is a thought-provoking, electrifying read that catapults the reader into a world of unknown, and forces them to confront gender in a new sphere. Power offers potential and influence, but as Alderman demonstrates, it also creates fear and brutality once those who have it are left drunk by its overwhelming force.

Read if you...
like The Handmaid's Tale, love dystopian worlds, liked Matilda when you were little. 


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