Hello, my fellow book lovers!
I am back with another review! It has been a while since I read a book that made such an impact on me. It took me some time to finish this book due to other commitments, but when I was reading, I was ENGROSSED. This is a book that I believe every person should read. This feminist sci-fi dystopia chilled me to my core, and it left me feeling a whole other way about power and the female experience. I will be going into more detail below, but one thing for sure is that this book is unforgettable.
Name: The Power
Author: Naomi Alderman
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Publication Date: 2017
Synopsis: In ‘The Power’ the world is a recognizable 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 agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young 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.
“It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth”.
Like I said, this book was unique. It reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale, but with a modern twist to it. ‘The Power’ provides an insightful take on gender politics and the workings of power. In a world where women have been gifted with the power to create lightning, everything we know about patriarchal society is put into question. What comes after order tries to maintain itself, however, is where things get interesting. ‘The Power’ delves into the challenges of the female experience, inclusively, and makes it a point not to generalize the effects of the new lightning ability on women either. Not all women view and use this power in the same way, and the story explores the effects of these differing views and their consequences.
The story takes place over 10 years, following a revolution where young women suddenly start to possess the ability to create lightning from their bodies. As the countdown gets closer to the end date, events get more extreme, intriguing and eventually disturbing, adding to the general feeling of chaos that pervades the book. It was both a thrilling and uncomfortable experience to read how events unravelled. The ending, though, was fantastic! It changed my whole perception of the book and wrapped everything up nicely.
“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. Look under the shells: it’s not there”.
The book follows four narrators, and how each narrator’s journey adds to the shifting world order. We have Roxy, the bastard daughter of a gang boss; Allie turned Eve, a young woman of colour trapped in an abusive home; Tunde, a man from Nigeria providing the male perspective, whose journalistic ambition pushes him to make a name of himself during all the chaos; and Margot; a middle-aged American woman and politician, whose position provides her with political opportunity to gain power and control of the changing situation.
Each narration provides a distinct perspective on the new lightning ability in women and how perceptions of the status quo are challenged. All narrators learn that power is a challenge to acquire, but easy to lose. I found Allie’s and Roxy’s narrations the most enjoyable, but Tunde’s was the most insightful. His character arc allows the reader to get a better understanding on the ‘bigger picture’ changes with this new power.
“Now they will know,” shouts one woman into Tunde’s camera, “that they are the ones who should not walk out of their houses alone at night. They are the ones who should be afraid”.
In a world where the white-supremacist and patriarchal society is torn apart, it makes a lot of sense for those in under-dog positions to rise and thrive, and I really liked that about this book. The fact that two out of four narrators are people of colour is not a coincidence, and I enjoyed seeing them push against old biases and restrictions and succeed in challenging the status quo. Through religion, drug trafficking, journalism, and politics, power is sought and wielded in many forms.
I like the way the book progressed from a story about gender politics, to a general exploration on the effects of power, and how it can corrupt those who have it. The story was intense and jam-packed with great twists. It was enjoyable, insightful, and very eye-opening. It is not a book of men vs women, and the book makes it a point to express that neither gender is innocent, which I loved; it is a book on the mechanics of power.
“One of them says, ‘Why did they do it?’
And the other answers, ‘Because they could.’
That is the only answer there ever is”.
There is so much more that I can say about this book, but I am going to stop it here as I do not want to spoil it! To summarize, this is a book for anyone interested in feminist science fiction/dystopia that is entertaining, thought-provoking, and perceptive. This book has a lot to offer, and that you should read this at least once in your life.
Thanks for reading! What was the last sci-fi/dystopia or feminist novel that you read? And what would you do if you woke up with a power to produce lightning? Let me know in the comments below!
Written by: Alexia DeBono
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