Book #37

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks 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.

Alderman flips gender norms on their heads in this stunning depiction of a sudden onslaught of female power. Young women begin to develop a strange, electrical power, which they can bend and control at their will. They can hurt, they can influence, they can awaken the power in their elders, and they can do pretty much what they damn well want. The patriarchy crumbles; we see men become the victims; I begin to salivate.

The story progresses through the viewpoints of different characters. And they’re very different. An American mayor with high hopes of her own progression, a daughter of a British gangster, an orphan escaping her disgusting foster parents, and a man hellbent on documenting everything in his notebooks and digital camera. None of them fit with each other, none of them felt like reliable narrators, yet each of them had to come to terms with what was happening in the world.

It feels liberating for a while. Society has been flipped, and we are the dominant sex. The thrill is in you, you long for this electricity to course it’s way through your veins. Then Alderman takes us down a dark, political path, and it’s clear to see what is bound to happen in a world where this type of power is available.

Alderman is so clever with this. She describes the atrocities committed against men until you feel sick to the stomach. How can we live in a world like this? Until the realisation dawns that we are living in a world like this; it’s just not the men who are taking the pain.

Just imagine a world where one sex is oppressed, sexually violated, and lives in fear of their lives daily. Unable to walk alone in the dark, a world where listening to music with both earphones in place is unimaginable, where if you’re a member of the weaker sex, you are fair game. Imagine that. Unthinkable, right?

If you don’t get it yet, see below for a member of Goodreads being schooled:

This was truly wonderful and so intelligent; I haven’t read a book like this in a very long time. I think it’s important, exciting, and absolutely gorgeous. Read it immediately.

One of them says, 'Why did they do it?'
And the other answers, 'Because they could.'
That is the only answer there ever is.