Book Review: The Power

The Power by Naomi Alderman

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 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.

This is a difficult book to review. I loved the concept and the writing is fantastic, the wide array of characters is interesting, and the social commentary is incredible. However, there was a little something about this book that did not quite work for me and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
There is a lot going on in The Power. When girls get this electrical power that boys don’t get the power dynamics of the entire world shift, throwing the world into torment. It is really difficult to read about some of the abuses that women then inflict on men, creating a complete reversal of the patriarchy we have now–and this shines a light on how women are being treated today to see the same things happening to men. I will say, this book took me awhile to read because of the amount of violence. I get why it was there, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read.
Maybe that’s part of the problem, women, in this scenario, become oppressors of men. Alderman seems to be saying that whoever has power will use it to hold down those who don’t, that might makes right. But maybe that is part of her commentary or her way of shining a light on the current patriarchy.
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