About a Book: The Power

‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman

Bechdel test PASS / Feminist / LGBTQ+ / Diversity or POC / Disabled characters

GENRE: Dystopian Fantasy

Book would be great for: Misogynists, Meninists and Nasty Women

Rating: 9/10

I absolutely loved this book.

This books is about an alternate timeline of the Earth, in which one day girls aged fourteen and below are bestowed with an electrifying new superpower. They then can pass it on to women older than themselves. The narrative moves from girls playfully shocking each other in playgrounds, to weaponising their power, very swiftly. Naturally this doesn’t go down very well with the rest of the population… The novel is interjected with scientific drawings and documents, which adds a pseudo-scientific/historic flavour.

‘The Power’ raises issues such as genital mutilation, gang rape, Sharia law, government conspiracies, nuclear war and what it means to be a woman. Issues are not handled delicately but thrust into the reader’s face, demanding to be acknowledged. The writing is fluid and captivating, whilst driving a hard point. I thought persistently of Margaret Attwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ throughout — after reading the acknowledgements, it seems that Attwood was a mentor during the writing process. Many of the same themes lace Alderman’s novel, a restructured matriarchal society attempting to do better than the people before.

I enjoyed the character of Roxy, as she seemed closest to home for me at least. Her character’s progression is truly wounding. Having been traumatised from such a young age, she whole-heartedly accepts the power bestowed upon her and puts it immediately to work in her father’s gang. She retains her strength, dignity and status throughout the novel, proving time and time again that she is someone to be reckoned with, even when her luck takes a turn for the worse.

Allie’s character was the one that intrigued me, I have a particular interest in cults and their behaviour. It was truly enlightening to hear how the cult is formed from Allie’s perspective, her ‘little voice’ guides her throughout her life, promising bigger and better things. This voice could be perceived as another personality or a product a mental health issues, but neither of those options really occurs to Allie. She takes comfort in the voice and relies on it to make decisions and life plans. These end up impacting, not only upon Allie but on the whole world, as we see towards the end of the book. She seemed a very real and understandable character, the reader empathises as well as attempting to figure her out.

Did the book make you laugh or cry? The book made me hurt. Because it’s all true. It’s all happening. It’s all true to an extent, but of course the gender is switched. And no one has superpowers. So where’s the excuse?

In my mind, the book concludes in saying that truly no one has any power, and there will always be a need for someone to be ostracised, punished and oppressed.