Review of 'The Power'

The Power by Naomi Alderman

the_power.jpg In an alternate reality woman have developed the ability to inflict pain or death through their touch which they quickly use to exact their revenge on those that have long caused them pain: Sexual abusers, tyrants and other oppressors. “The Power” tells the story of the emergence of this power and what happens to the planet. Tunde is a videographer who first exposes the emergence of these new abilities to the world following the story throughout the world ending up caught in the middle. Margot Cleary is a politician who hides her power for fear of not being elected, seeking the creation of “North Star Girls Camps” where girls are separated from society and taught to “responsibly” use their new gifts but how long will she able to keep the secret that she has the same power as they? Annabeth MacDuff (Allie) exacts her revenge on an abusive father before becoming leader of a new church devoted to these new powers of woman. Roxy is a woman with exceptional reserves of the power recognised by Allie, now calling herself “Mother Eve”, who sees Roxy as an extremely powerful tool, making her front-line commander in their crusade…

An interesting premise for a novel that plays out in vivid, visceral detail on the page. There is no doubt left in the reader as to what can be done to the human body using these powers that are so freely wielded by the woman as they seek to establish a new balance of “power” over the planet. Of course it also shows how those with such a power quickly become as bad as those they originally seek to put in their place. Yes, it is brutal. No, this is not exactly a “fun” book.

What I found intriguing is the physical structure of the book with a narrative purporting to be the discovered papers of a long-lost male relating the history of the power complete with historic notes and images of historic artefacts. The world being described is one in which the power has been firmly established for some time now and even the idea of woman not having these gifts extraordinary hard to comprehend. Alderman here is attempting to convince the reader in the reality she describes. It is extraordinarily effective.

An interesting, if more than slightly disturbing, novel.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-11-17

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 2016

ISBN: 9780670919963

Other reviewed books by Naomi Alderman: