The Power by Naomi Alderman

I’m going to have a go but I’m sure that I am in no way going to do this book justice in this review! Best thing to do is to go read, and experience, it yourself.

Imagine, if you will, that women are physically superior to men; imagine if the people in positions of power, making the rules and deciding what is and isn’t appropriate were all female; imagine if a female could kill a man with only a touch. Now you have the basis of the world that The Power inhabits you are ready to go further.

Winning the Baileys Award earlier last year for this novel, Naomi Alderman has created an amazing alternate world, one where the reality is really the same, except that there is something growing, something spreading and it is strong and it won’t be held back. Females the world over are developing and becoming imbued with the ability to discharge an electrical shock from their own bodies. This simple, but powerful, ability has turned the current patriarchal power structure of the world into chaos and the female population are ready to use it to alter the balance in their own favour.

Told across multiple character viewpoints, we discover The Power just as they do, learning how it can be used, learning what changes it can help to make and learning how it can turn the tide to the favour of womankind. The main protagonists that we follow are: Allie, a foster child/orphan passed around from home to home who has learned about her power and has a mysterious, internal monologue to guide her  and help her make her decisions; Tunde, a male reporter, fortuitously on the scene when a girl first used her power, capturing it on video and broadcasting it for the world to see, making a name for himself at the same time; Roxy, a British gangsters daughter, keen to make her mark in her family’s underground world; Margot a US Governor, eager to rise up the ranks but also look after her two girls. All apart from Tunde have the power to some degree, all are capable to using it to change things in their lives and for the lives of others, but which path will they take? How will they utilise it?

I don’t want to spoil this book as there are some amazing moments throughout that take your breath away but also really make you think about how the current world operates in terms of gender and the way that power is currently structured by turning it all on it’s head. The characters are superbly fleshed out and you are eager to find out what happens to each and every one of them next. Really well written from start to finish, an amazing idea and it certainly lives up to its title. This book really is The Power.

I can see what this novel is saying and the way it is using it to highlight the way the world is working in todays age. The timing of this novel couldn’t have happened at a more opportune moment as discussions about gender, women’s rights and treatment are coming to the fore and, rightfully so, women are making a stand to gain what they should have always had: equality.

The rights of this book have been sold and is being adapted into a TV series but I don’t know when it is likely to be broadcast. If it is done right it should cause as much of a shock to the system as The Handmaid’s Tale has been but for a totally different reason.

Rating:     ½

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