Title: The Power
Author: Naomi Alderman
‘She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.’
Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light.
What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?
Well this will be a hard review to write because a) I don’t want to spoil anything and b) there’s so much to discuss, this review could end up far too long! So I’ll try and keep it succinct…
The Power is a gripping, exciting and, at times, very shocking story of what could happen if women developed special powers which could hurt, maim and even kill those without the powers (ie. men). The book follows the build up to this, counting down the years before and following various narratives. We see people from various backgrounds as they deal with the changing world now that women have this new power over men. It’s really disturbing at times – the author hasn’t gone down the route of claiming women would forgive and forget the many, many years of oppression and horrendous treatment by men and avoid using their power to hurt. No, women really assert their dominance and show themselves to be just as cruel in many ways as men have been… and, though I feel bad for saying it, I loved reading a book where women didn’t have to be the empathetic, kind, maternal gender and instead did whatever they wanted. The world certainly can’t be said to be better with women in charge, but it was a LOT of fun to read about!
There were points in the novel where I felt completely uncomfortable and very shocked. The Power really makes you think, and I loved also learning how men react to this change. One of the storylines follows Tunde as he travels the world to report on these developments, and I felt that this storyline was one of the most shocking and disturbing at some points; it really made me consider certain aspects of human nature. I liked that the narratives linked together at different times too, and it’s bound to provoke plenty of debate among friends, book groups and anyone else who’s read it!