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The Power

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In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power--they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

341 pages, Hardcover

First published October 27, 2016

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About the author

Naomi Alderman

35 books3,304 followers
Naomi Alderman (born 1974 in London) is a British author and novelist.

Alderman was educated at South Hampstead High School and Lincoln College, Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She then went on to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a novelist.
She was the lead writer for Perplex City, an Alternate reality game, at Mind Candy from 2004 through June, 2007.[1]
Her father is Geoffrey Alderman, an academic who has specialised in Anglo-Jewish history. She and her father were interviewed in The Sunday Times "Relative Values" feature on 11 February 2007.[2]

Her literary debut came in 2006 with Disobedience, a well-received (if controversial) novel about a rabbi's daughter from North London who becomes a lesbian, which won her the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers.
Since its publication in the United Kingdom, it has been issued in the USA, Germany, Israel, Holland, Poland and France and is due to be published in Italy, Hungary and Croatia.
She wrote the narrative for The Winter House, an online, interactive yet linear short story visualized by Jey Biddulph. The project was commissioned by Booktrust as part of the Story campaign, supported by Arts Council England. [3]

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 24,569 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
June 3, 2018
It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted.

TW: rape.

Ooh, this is a toughie. I have a lot of mixed feelings about Alderman's The Power. It's an intriguing and clever concept, but this never really translates into an engaging story.

Imagine if one day, suddenly, girls developed a strange physical power: they can produce electricity inside them. They can use this power to hurt, to torture, and to kill. A world that is built on patriarchy is suddenly upturned - being a woman is synonymous with power and strength, men are the ones afraid to walk alone at night, the female body itself becomes an instrument of power.

With obvious nods to rape culture, The Power imagines what the world would be like if men, not women, had to live in constant fear for their physical safety. Alderman considers how this would affect a variety of people and issues, from terrorism to religion, and she does this through the eyes of four very different people.

There's Roxy, a white British teenager and the daughter of a gangster. There's Allie, a mixed-race girl who runs away after years of abuse and finds herself at a convent, revered as some kind of goddess. There's Margot, an American mayor and one of the few older women to develop the power. And then Tunde, a young Nigerian man and aspiring journalist who captures early footage of the power in action.

The four perspectives are unequal and uneven, with certain perspectives being much more interesting for part of the book and then becoming tedious, and others doing the reverse of that. Some of the characters verge on cliches and stereotypes too. Additionally, the whole novel uses a research/book proposal as a framing device - a guy called Neil writes to Alderman with the draft of his work attached - which is interesting, but the book does actually feel like a piece of research at times.

I felt like most of the book explored a concept without telling a story. After the initial discovery of the powers and the subsequent affect on the world, the book kind of stalled, and lots of chapters felt dragged out without purpose or direction. Allie's perspective became deeply entrenched in religion, more so than was interesting, and I quickly lost interest in where the other POVs were going.

Also, some parts seemed a little too simplistic. I honestly don't believe that Saudi women would embrace rebellion so readily and to that extent. The notion that Muslim women are just waiting to throw off their clothes, riot in the street, and have casual sex seems like a blinkered "Western" perspective. Sure, maybe this would evolve over time if Saudi women had power, but I find it very hard to believe that anyone would cast off centuries of cultural practices in a matter of days.

The Power is a real mixed bag full of fascinating ideas, lack of focus, over-simplified male/female power dynamics, and some clever subversive scenes. I particularly liked the part where one woman claims that some boys "secretly like it", a play on the notion of "asking for it" in rape culture.

A hard book to rate. I wonder if it would have made a better short story.

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Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 82 books167k followers
February 1, 2018

I finished this novel at midnight last night and after I went to bed, I blinked into my pillow and tried to think of what words I would type into this box on Goodreads apart from that first one: wow. After a few minutes thought, I figured I could add "intelligent" and "uncomfortable" and "thought-provoking."

The problem with all of those is that they get used so often that we see only hyperbole. This book, like many others, bears a jacket printed darkly with other authors saying great things about it. New classic! Great! Important! Sure, sure, man.

Believe them.

The hook is simple: the novel begins when girls and women suddenly gain the power to shock and kill others with only a touch; it takes only a second's thought to imagine how this would turn the world on its head. It's not the hook, however, that sells this book. It's Alderman's searing understanding of power dynamics in relationships, from big to small. With both empathy and remove, she writes about oppression and gender in a clever, disturbing, heartbreaking way.

It's not a comfort read. It's not a rich exploration of character. It's not even a rich exploration of everything there is to say about oppression or prejudice. It's a single-minded novel in the grand tradition of 1984 or THE HANDMAID'S TALE or BRAVE NEW WORLD. The simple title is brilliant in its accuracy. I saw a few reviews complain that the book offers no answers, but to me, that represents one of its greatest strengths. It's illuminating but not didactic. Probing but not prescriptive. An exposure, not a screed. There's no easy answer to the question of how power is transferred and how power corrupts; I would've distrusted any book that tried to tell me otherwise. This is all THE POWER tried to tell me: The problem is not men. The problem is not women. The problem is humans. This is why.

I've still failed at this recommendation — all of these words really just still mean WOW.

So I guess I'll leave it there: Wow.
Profile Image for Benji.
121 reviews40 followers
June 19, 2017
Seriously?! Christ this is a mess. I'm obviously wrong considering all the glowing praise and award-winning going on here, but can't for the life of me understand what the fuss is about. I mean, great concept but poor execution. Way too many of the chapters felt off or forced, I didn't invest in any of the characters, and the ending didn't redeem it - in fact, probably made it worse.

Very disappointed.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
530 reviews34.5k followers
February 5, 2019
”For a moment he thought of banging on the door, of saying: Please. Help. But the thought of the darkness that might be behind those lit windows kept him from asking. The night was filled with monsters now.”

Oh boy, this is such a tough one to review. I finished “The Power” about a week ago and I still feel so conflicted about it all. A world in which women suddenly get the ability to create electricity and can use it however they please? It sounds so intriguing, right? It was so promising but the way it was executed? I really don’t know. ..

Don’t get me wrong, this book was very enthralling and I always wanted to know what would happen next but I just didn’t like how it all played out in the end. I’m sure by now you’re asking yourself: Why not, Ginny? What happened?! And I’ll try to give you a proper answer. Here’s the short one: The women in this book happened! >_<

Not good enough? Okay, let me elaborate. XD

”There are men trying to drag their women from the glass. And there are women shrugging off their hands. Not bothering to say a word. Watching and watching. Palms pressed against the glass. He knows then that this thing is going to take the world and everything will be different and he is so glad he shouts for joy, whooping with the others among the flames.”

This was from Tunde’s POV and truth be told, he was the only character I liked in this book and could relate to. Yes, you read right: “he”. Tunde is a boy and at the beginning he’s happy that women got this kind of power. In fact he’s one of their biggest supporters. He’s taking interviews, he’s trying to understand them and he’s helping them as best as he can by keeping the world informed. Tunde is a reporter and a damn good one at that! ;-) He stayed neutral in a time everyone else took sides and even though his goodwill was tested quite often, he never gave into the temptation of siding with one of the bigger parties. Not even with UrbanDox who is a man and has rather extreme opinions about how women should be treated in future.

”We need laws to protect men. We need curfews on women. We need the government to release all the funding they need to “research” that cure. We need men to stand up and be counted. We are being ruled by fags who worship women. We need to cut them down.”

It sounds violent, doesn’t it? But looking at it in retrospective I almost find myself agreeing with UrbanDox though. AND THAT, is exactly the reason why “The Power” messed so much with my head. Aside from Tunde there are four other female POVs and they are all in a position of power and don’t even hesitate to take advantage of it. They are corrupt, they are brutal and they misuse their power in the worst way possible. No matter whether it is Senator Margot Cleary, Tatiana - the president of Bessapara, Roxanne Monk or Mother Eve. Each and every one of them is on a reckless mission and there is no room for compassion.

”Much injustice has been done, and it is the will of the Almighty that we gather together to put it right.”

The things that happen in this book! *shakes head* I like to believe that we (women) are better than that! That we wouldn’t do the things those four women are doing! That we would never do all those horrible things all the other women are doing in “The Power”. I AM SHOOK!!! And coming from me that actually means something! I mean I can understand why the author chose to go down that road and it certainly is something new and quite different. It is indeed thought-provoking, but it definitely reflects badly on women all over the world. There’s rape, there’s torture, men are kept as slaves, there’s every kind of atrocity you can imagine and it’s horrifying to read.

”At first we did not speak our hurt because it was not manly. Now we do not speak it because we are afraid and ashamed and alone without hope, each of us alone. It is hard to know when the first became the second.”

I just don’t want to believe that women would misuse their power so much. Especially because (and it pains me to say this) the women in this book are so much worse than the men ever were. It’s one thing to give women power and to let them use it, it’s an entirely different thing to let them lose their humanity though and this is exactly what happens in this book. Take the worst of the worst, take the most horrible things men ever did and then lift it to another level. There are still countries in which women are oppressed and raped, there are illegal slave trades and prostitution, in your own country there are most certainly enough men that beat or hurt their women. This happens everywhere around the world, no matter whether it are third world countries or industrial nations. It’s horrible and wrong and we have to continue to do our best in order to fight this injustice and inhumanity. BUT what happens in this book?! This senseless violence, it’s cruel! Cruel and brutal and out of proportion, out of control.

”When did he get so jumpy? And he knows when. It wasn’t this last thing that made it happen. This fear has been building up in him. The terror put its roots down into his chest years ago and every month and every hour has driven the tendrils a little deeper into the flesh.”

No man is safe any longer. They are oppressed everywhere, even in America, even in Europe. If they voice their opinion they are fired, if they try to say something they are shut up. In the best case scenario they play the part of a nice pleasant face next to a woman, in the worst case they are enslaved, tortured and raped and have no rights anymore. They are treated as things before they lose their value and end up dead. IT IS HORRIBLE!!!


”The sky, which had seemed blue and bright, clouds over, grey to black. There will be a rainstorm. It has been coming, the dust is parched, the soil longs for soaking, teeming dark water. For the earth is filled with violence, and every living thing has lost its way.

And that is exactly the thing that bugged me reading this book! The only women who show compassion for men are the ones that have no power to call their own and this distressed me immensely. Because basically this book is saying: Give women power and they’ll abuse it in the worst possible way. Which left a more than just bad taste in my mouth. And the ending?! Centuries and millennia of men in places of power, yet it never ended that way… *shakes head*

I liked the idea, I appreciate Naomi Alderman’s approach and her book is indeed thought-provoking, I refuse to accept that every woman would act like that though. I believe in democracy, in justice, freedom of speech, equality and compassion and every single fibre of my being is struggling against the kind of world Alderman created.

We could do so much better than that.
We CAN do so much better than that.

I guess in the end Naomi Alderman got us exactly where she wants us to be. ;-)
Profile Image for Belinda.
Author 1 book17 followers
May 23, 2017
This was another of those books reviewed on the radio and given loads of positive hype. I love sci-fi, I love Margaret Atwood (Alderman's mentor), and I'm a feminist. I wanted to read this book because what could go wrong?

The first 20 chapters seemed to be ok. Naomi can write, well, of course she can, and the premise was sound. Women have been altered genetically by pollutants and have developed a skein. This enables them to generate electricity. Suddenly they are the more powerful sex.

We follow three women - Roxy, Mother Eve, and Margot - and 1 man - Tunde - as the world changes. Tunde is a journalist who chronicles demonstrations, political changes, and the uprising of men who hate their secondary status. Roxy is a woman who has the most powerful skein out there. Mother Eve, originally Allie, grows up in foster care and is abused until she murders Mr whoever and has to run away and create a new identity. Margot's a politician who is at the forefront of helping to empower women by providing them with classes on how to manage their "gift".

Things start to go pear shaped when power goes to everyone's heads. The sort of brutality that women have to currently put up with all the time, the sexism, the put downs, rape, pain, torture, murder, now happens to men. Often the men seek it because it enhances sex, but women go crazy, especially once Glitter, a drug that makes women's electrical charges more powerful, comes along.

It all sounds ok, right? Well, it isn't. I don't care one bit about Alderman's link with Atwood, her ability to write a good sentence, or the fact this book has sold and sold and sold, been broadcast on BBC radio 4, and will probably end up as a movie. It's sick. I get that the world would alter considerably if women became the big kahunas. I get that things could go wrong. I also understand that there could be a real backlash against men if women suddenly became so strong that they could do whatever they wanted to a man, but I don't believe women would become so feral and so insanely cruel.

To me this book undermines women because it seems to say, "If we had The Power we'd rape men, kill them, physically pull them to pieces, because we can't act humanely." To me it says that even if women were physically strong we're mentally and emotionally too weak to do the right thing. Sure, this is fiction, but it's so gratuitously violent (wait until the scene where the women murder two tiny children hiding in a metal drum) that it is insulting and repulsive.

The best books manage to show the many faces of humanity. Women are seen as nurturers, creators, more emotionally expressive, as well as smart, funny, moody, and so on. But in The Power they act like beasts. Even Margot, mother of Jocelyn, is totally selfish.

What a horrible book this is. I wanted to give it no stars to express how much I ended up hating it. Read it if you want, but don't say I didn't warn you.
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
557 reviews7,411 followers
November 18, 2017
I think I'm going to give up on literary awards. Naomi Alderman's The Power found its way into my hands by winning 2017's Bailey's Prize. The plot sounded so intriguing. Young girls around the world began developing 'the power', or essentially being able to shoot lightning from their palms. This discovery leads to a great event known as The Cataclysm, after which women become the dominant sex in society. It's fairly classic speculative fiction territory. However, what may have done quite well as a classic half-hour Twilight Zone episode is here stretched out into a 339-page novel.

Alderman employs many different POVs to form her narrative, which caused the Minnie Effect*. My personal favourite character was Margot, a woman running for election before the Cataclysm. As great as Margot was, that did not make up for the fact that she was possibly the only character who I actually warmed to in this novel. Many of the other characters (particularly Allie and Roxy) just seemed to meld together in my mind and I had trouble trying to separate all of the threads.

However, all of these reservations seem moot when one asks the question: what genre is this novel? The book seems to switch between Young Adult to international thriller to literary fiction in as little time as the turn of a page. It reads like several very different books stitched together. I will admit that since this won the Bailey's Prize I was expecting something more along the lines of Atwood's literary dystopias but instead I was given a Twister board of genres being spun by Suzanne Collins. Much like Withnail's famed exclamation that he and Marwood had gone on holidays by accident, I seemed to be reading The Hunger Games by accident.

However, what do I know? My edition came with a whole second cover behind the first cover just absolutely plastered in praise. In fact, every blank space on this book is populated by a glowing review or a showy tagline. I applaud the publicity team behind it, they really went above and beyond. However, I was left feeling bored by this novel. The plot isn't very compelling, which was demonstrated by my unwillingness to pick up this novel again whenever I put it down. However I did power through - an effort which I now view as somewhat pointless. This isn't a one-star review because I didn't hate this book, it was merely just overwhelmingly second-rate.

*The Minnie Effect, named for the eponymous character in Kathryn Stockett's The Help, is a phenomenon in POV novels where the best or most entertaining characters are given the least amount of attention within the overall novel whilst the least entertaining or boring characters dominate the narrative.

Stray observation:
This whole novel is meant to be written five-thousand years in the future, yet at one point a character makes a movement that is compared to the moves of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. So we are meant to believe that the only thing in all human history which survived the Cataclysm and the five-thousand years of life afterward was the 1977 disco movie Saturday Night Fever?
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,275 followers
August 14, 2017
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Roxy is a tenacious girl with an influential family. Tunde enjoys lounging poolside after his photo-journalism class. Margot is a politician with grand aspirations and a vulnerable teenage daughter. Allie is a young woman whose religious foster parents are not what they seem. Roxy, Tunde, Margot, and Allie have relatively normal lives, until something extraordinary happens: Teenage girls acquire supernatural abilities that give them unparalleled physical power. The world is turned on its head as the power takes over. Roxy, Tunde, Margot, and Allie are drawn together in unprecedented ways to calamitous effect.

The Power drops readers right into the action and opens on the threshold of the change, an event later referred to as the Day of the Girls.

[She] feels the thing like pins and needles along her arms. Like needle-pricks of light from her spine to her collarbone, from her throat to her elbows, wrists, to the pads of her fingers. She's glittering, inside.

Chapters alternate between Roxy, Tunde, Margot, and Allie. Though the book is written in third person perspective, subtle narrative nuances give each character their own voice.

Plot twists are placed with adept exactitude, giving the book a satisfying pace. Social norms throughout the world shift daily as more and more young women discover their ability to harness the power. Some social adjustments are small and happen slowly; others are more drastic and arrive suddenly. Males must behave in ways that are unorthodox for men but are, in the real world, common practice for women. It often feels unfathomable that male characters in the book should suffer such atrocities, but readers are forced to recognize a disturbing fact: Women suffer similar acts of barbarism every day in the real world.

They'd separated the boys from the girls on the fifth day [. . .] Already there are parents telling their boys not to go out alone, not to stray too far.

. . . it was considered normal to cull nine in ten boy babies. [. . .] there are still places today where boy babies are routinely aborted, or have their dicks 'curbed.'

One could argue that the route female characters opt to go with their newfound power seems contrary to biology and the nurturing qualities that are intuitive to many women. The book goes so far as to playfully address this incongruity. No answer or explanation is given, but the mere act of mentioning opposing thoughts plants the seed to incite further conversation on the subject matter.

It doesn't matter that she shouldn't, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.

After a compulsory narrative and a slew of surprises, the book concludes with a clever final page that is delightfully on-the-nose.

The Power is a feminist work of speculative fiction whose fundamental messages will stir readers to confront haunting truths.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,455 followers
November 10, 2020
What a horrible mess of a book. As soon as I heard of the idea of The Power I wanted to read it – it’s simple and completely revolutionary – you’ll know it already – women throughout the world develop a power somewhat like ELECTRIC EELS!!!!! But better! (One might hope – when did an electric eel ever run for president? Also may I say this is no cheap mockery, there is a scene where a character ponders a tank of ELECTRIC EELS quite early on).

Yes, women can now send out shocks which cause anything from a mere pinpick to an obliterating agony lasting hours, so from then onwards the balance of POWER (get it???) between men and women turns round 180 degrees, ha haaah, at last – now let us see what the world looks like.
Yes, a feminist revenge fantasy. The opposite of The Handmaid’s Tale. I want to read that. But what I got was something that started out looking pretty hip hop and happening, jaunty and fast and fun, and with a savage twist to boot, but began to come apart at the seams almost before I got it home from the shops, the stuffing came out, it made me sneeze, the lining ripped completely off, I thought of taking it back to the shop but I couldn’t be bothered.

To tell this vast story which has so many implications your very mind can melt at the ten thousand thoughts you get about what really would happen if women did become human electric EELS and no men could ever anymore offer any violence to any woman - holy ac/dc, what a world that would be huh? - Naomi Alderman chooses four characters and follows their stories and oh how awful each one is. There is the Sarf Landan gangsta girl, all lock stock and two smoking barrels, there is the female mayor of a city in Wisconsin – it’s not the Oval Office but it comes to you via the House of Cards playbook; there is the anonymous young American girl who becomes the new Eve in the Big Fat New Agey Religion (can’t avoid the G word); there’s a male Nigerian reporter who is a blatant personality-free device for the author to be able to shoot round the world and take a few snapshots (riots in Riyadh, dreadful events in India, murky doings in Moldova).

What could be searingly serious is played for thrills & spills, but you get the strong idea that these are supposed to be philosophically underpinned thrills & spills. If so empowered, would women be as fascistically inclined to dish out pain and subservience to men as heretofore men have been to women? Discuss!

There are so so so many rather more ordinary scenarios I wanted to see explored under the new regime – what would happen to women in prison? How would society cope with all the accidental/intentional killings of rapists and paedophiles occurring in the first period of time before men realised they couldn’t do that stuff any more? What about the revolution in male consciousness required? – but instead Naomi Alderman fritters her novel away in pointless hurly-burly with comicbook villains (male and female) and a copout ending.

Shocking ! (Groan!)
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
July 2, 2018

Sometimes it's good to go to war, just to know you can.

i’d enjoyed this author’s kinda-sorta The Secret History book, The Lessons, some years ago, and when i saw the cover and description for this one, i was very WANT for it. so, first things first: millions of thanks to lena for so generously sending me a copy, because it isn’t out in the u.s. until OCTOBER! sheesh.

this is nothing at all like The Lessons, leaving realism behind for a feminist SF “what if?” scenario in which girls the whole world ‘round begin to manifest shocking (heh) abilities - a long-dormant “skein;” a bundle of nerves and muscles stretching across the collarbones, is activated, giving girls the power to generate electricity within their skeins and transmit it through their fingies in a range of intensities from “mild warning” to “death.”

and the world is changed forever.

women are now quite literally empowered, able to defend themselves against any would-be attackers or break free from oppressive regimes, and over the years, power dynamics shift and patriarchies topple, leading to a kinder, gentler world run by women and their inherent nurturing qualities.

or the opposite of that.

if there’s one thing we’ve learned from scandal (when we’re not hypnotized by olivia pope’s powerbouncing stride and inhumanly poreless skin), it’s that power corrupts. and what starts out as a handy defense mechanism becomes darker with the dawning realization that The power to hurt is a kind of wealth, and once half the world is united in its ability to inflict pain, the young giddiness of freedom calcifies into something much more ruthless.

the book is not as flawless as olivia pope-skin, but i think when it comes to social science fiction, we can (president)* grant it some leeway. to me, social science fiction is a fascinating speculative exercise; an imaginative anthropological experiment in setting up a thought-provoking situation, turning it loose and seeing what shakes out. this isn’t meant to belittle the form at all - i’m more or less a genre-tourist, so i don't have a ton to compare this to, but i think that any flaws in the book are outweighed by its strengths. yes, it’s a bit facile or reductive at times, particularly in the macro view of the world, but it excels in the smaller details, most amusingly in its depiction of the evolving gender dynamic between news anchors. it’s a fine exploration of a conceit, and it definitely gave me something to think about.

it’s told from the perspectives of four characters: allie, an abuse victim turned messiah figure establishing a more female-friendly religion, margot, a rising-star politician, tunde, a sympathetic nigerian photojournalist and the only male POV, and roxy, a formidable english smart-ass from a powerful crime family whose skein is the most powerful of all, and who was far and away my favorite character. each of them experience the phenomenon in different ways, exposed to a different cross-section of the global repercussions of the event, all the hopeful, brutal, opportunistic ways in which humanity uses and abuses this power for personal, professional, cultural, or sexual advantage.

the book is structured as a decade-long countdown to an impending event, all tucked into a cheeky framing device which sets the events of the book into a larger historical context, complete with images of excavated artifacts, and also provides the opportunity for fun with anagrams.

this would be a good book club selection, which is what lena is reading it for, so she will be able to weigh in and let us all know for sure if this is a true statement.

* because i’m never one to drop a running gag.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
March 31, 2021
I think I've just stumbled upon one of those "Important Works" I keep saying is so necessary. No UF fluff with magical women or post-apocalypse SF nonsense where it's mostly about shocking us about the brutality of man against woman. (It seems that's mostly what it is, these days.)

Indeed, what we've got here is a careful and complex study of all the gender roles turned on its head, slowly, surely, and irrevocably.

We have women getting the power to shock the living shit out of anyone and teach this power to any other woman. Throw that wrinkle in today's worldwide culture, and suddenly we have a really ugly war of the sexes on a scale that's horrifying. All the abuses of power, of violence, of insanity, is now going to be returned to the sender.

I'll be honest, I loved the grand build-up of this reversal of power, thought the justice of it was delicious as hell. But it's another thing to see the justice turn to insanity. The practice of power for power's sake. To see women roaming the streets looking to abuse a stray man who was just looking for it, to have training camps to make women all stronger, to destroy anything that gets in their way.

It still seems like justice. All those nasty patriarchies and misogynists getting their due was FUN. Until it wasn't. Until women become fully as bad as the men always were. Or as we assume men always were.

The book also brings up the question of archeology in a wonderful way, fast-forwarding 5000 years into a culture where women have all the power and men are treated exactly the way women are treated today. With intellectual dishonesty, prejudice, ignorance, and the assumption that things were always as they were now, that men in armies are a joke or a sexual fantasy that could never have been true, like some of us may say Amazonians are today. That all the ancient statues destroyed depicting men as warriors back then must have been a grand joke or not what it seems. That the author, a man, ought to change his name to a woman's for the publication of the book to lend it credence.

And this last bit happens throughout this novel, lending it an inevitable and horrific outlook on the nature of the real problem.

It's not men. Or women. It's as Adler says. It's a POWER issue. Those with power abuse it. Those with power over others need to have someone to USE it on. This is the root of the disease.

I've often thought and agreed with certain authors who bring up the possibility that women DID have the power in our ancient pasts, 45-55 thousand years ago, the statues being the only evidence I really have. I liked to daydream about what lost societies, full cultures, civilizations in our own deep pasts might have been like before time eroded everything.

There really is no reason not to believe we've been through this exact same cycle many times, always suffering the same hubris and error in thinking. Power causes upheaval. The pendulum swings. The weak inherit the earth, and then the new weak inherit the earth, and then the new weak inherit the earth.

It's humbling, this turning of the wheel.

But back to the novel. It's extremely well written and painful to witness and thought-provoking and even delightful at times. It's also deep. Easily one of the very best novels of it's kind, being obviously gender-centric, sociological, and quite entertaining on the character level. The skein of power is almost secondary to the story. It's all about turning the tables. :)

I totally recommend this book for everyone. Period. It's just that brilliant and should be required reading for anyone in the discussion of what it means to be a woman OR a man. Let's open our eyes! :)
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,002 reviews35.9k followers
November 19, 2017
Writing like this catches my attention.......

“There is a feeling in his hand as if some insect has stung him. He looks down to swat it away, and the only thing on his hand is her warm palm.”
“The sensation grows, steadily and swiftly. At first it is pinprick’s in his hand and forearm, then the swarm buzzing prickles, then it is pain. He is breathing too quickly to be able to make a sound. He cannot move his left arm. His heart is loud in his ears. His chest is tight.”
“She is still giggling, soft and low. She leans forward and pulls him closer to her. She looks into his eyes, her irises are lined with lights of brown and gold, and her lower lip is moist. He is afraid. He is excited. He realizes he could not stop her, whatever she wanted to do now. The thought is terrifying. The thought is electrifying.
He is achingly hard now, and doesn’t know when that happen. He cannot feel anything at all in his left arm.”
“She leans in, bubblegum breath, and kisses him softly on the lips. Then she peels away, runs to the pool and dives, in one smooth, practiced movement.”
“He waits for the feeling to come back to his arm. She does her laps in silence, not calling to him for splashing water at him. He feels excited. He feels ashamed. He wants to talk to her, but he is afraid. Maybe he imagined it all. Maybe she will call him
a bad name if he asks her what happened”.

Did the above excerpt catch your attention too?

Oh .... I thought this book was *creative*!!!!
I really knew next to nothing when I purchased the hardcopy about a month ago. It was simply time for me to make my monthly- contribution- purchase at “Hicklbeess” - my favorite local indi. bookstore. It was a ‘gut’ — looked good - flap sounded good - purchase!

“The Power” is powerful...with a terrific beginning and ending! I loved how this novel was sealed like perfect bookends - from start to finish. I hope nobody has spoiled the framing of this novel - I found it to be a cool discovery.

This is a very timely novel....as the wake of the Weinstein allegations, claims of sexual abuse and harassment have spread like wildfires. Oh - and I kept thinking,
“This would make one hell of a great TV series!

A new force of power is showing up around the world. Teenage girls and women have developed an immense physical power —-with the flick of their fingers. They can cause agonizing pain and even death.

Allie, mixed race, had been sexually abused by her foster dad....so she kills him before escaping to a convent. Her healing powers started to show up when a sick girl by the name Luanne arrived at the convent. Allie’s powers are strong .... not all girls have the same levels of powers. —-Allie had private wishes that the nuns would adopt her forever ...love her like the family she never had ....but she knew that would never happen. A strong survival force takes over - even changing her name to Mother Eve. She becomes a roll model/ leader for other girls ...creating a feminist group. Instead of Male leaders in the Bible - there are now only Female leaders.

Tunde is a wealthy Nigerian guy —-he lounges around the family pool. He’s a foster kid who is religious parents hide their true nature. He starts on online business called “Days of The Girls”.....tracking the different stories of the moment rising around the world with females taking over all positions of power.

Margot is and American politician, a girl from London. Her daughter, Jocelyn began developing the fierce powers at only 6 years of age

Roxy comes from a London crime family -she came into her power witnessing her mother being attacked.

They have nasty names for girls Who can’t or won’t defend themselves . “Blanket”, and “flat battery” are the least offensive ones. “Gimp, Flick, Nesh, and Pzit” are nastier.

“There are strange movements rising now, not only cross the world, but right here in the USA. You can see it on the Internet. Boys dressing as the girls to see more powerful. Girls dressing as boys to shake off the meaning of power, or to Leap on the unsuspecting, wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Westbrook Baptist Church has seen influx of crazy new members who think the day of judgement is coming”.

Powerful - disturbing corruption - exhilarating - funny at times - thought-provoking storytelling!

The question lives in our minds.....”If women WERE THE RULERS - STRENGTH - POWER FORCE SEX ....dominant sex in all roles of leadership power ..... would women subject men to the same type of oppression and degradation that we have witnessed in history done to women?”

WINNER of the Bailey’s women’s prize for fiction!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
December 2, 2018
many successful dystopian novels that feature feminist themes tend to follow the same idea in regards to womens oppression, which is something is taken away. in ‘the handmaids tale,’ its womens reproductive rights and freedoms. in ‘vox,’ its womens voices. so ‘the power’ completely breaks that pattern by actually giving something to women instead. can you believe??

and even though the premise of this book is unique and promises so much potential, i couldnt help but feel like there is so much wrong with it. and it all stems from the fact that this book is extremely negative.

but first, let me explain the set up/format of the book. the story follows four different character POVs with each perspective visited at a single point in a year, over the span of ten years. so there are a lot of gaps and its left up to the reader to infer everything that has been going between each point of reference. there isnt a lot of world-building and the reader is left to fill in a lot of blanks themselves. and it doesnt help that each POV focuses on all of the negative changes in this newly developing world, where women have acquired an ability to generate electrical stimuli. the story fixates on the abuse and rape and violence and revenge and torture and every other horrible thing imaginable. its makes for a very bleak and pessimistic story.

while i am sure events of that nature would occur in a situation like this, i feel like there are many other aspects that should have been the main focus/plot instead. elements which would have made the story so much more meaningful and powerful, allowing the book to resonate with a much wider audience.

this story essentially postulates that, with any sort of shift which provides women with a dominance in power, they will become complete savages with no regard for human life or decency. its such an extreme stance to take that im not sure im okay with it, or this book.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
May 10, 2018
DNF @ 50%

I actually think this book is FANTASTIC. It's extremely sophisticated, well written, and though-provoking. The issue is I'm just really not engaged with it at the moment and feel there's no point in me continuing right now when I can barely retain the story. I 100% intend on finishing the story at a later time and may pick up the physical version instead of continuing with the audiobook (I also really did not like the narrator.)
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews808 followers
November 25, 2017
The Power is a ride into dark fantasy by Naomi Alderman that starts off like an E-ticket attraction at Disney Resorts before fizzling out like a bottle rocket from Jerry's Fireworks. Published in 2016, Alderman's concept is thrilling and one that Rod Serling or Ray Bradbury might've given props to, using genre to address prejudice, intolerance and social inequality right here on earth in the present day. The novel develops a strong sense of mystery and unease early, but once the call goes out for a cohesive story and compelling characters to support the concept, the book collapses.

After an unnecessary prologue in which "Neil Adam Armon" submits what he calls a historic novelization to an author named Naomi for feedback, the novel begins with a fourteen-year-old British girl named Roxanne Monke protecting herself and her mum from two attackers with what appears to be electrostatic charges Roxy delivers by touch. In Nigeria, Olatunde Edo is a 21-year-old who is playfully shocked by the cute cousin of a friend he flirts with. Months later, Tunde witnesses a girl being sexually harassed and sensing something about to happen, records her directing an electrostatic charge on her harasser with fatal results.

As reports of young girls around the world employing a strange new type of fighting that leaves other kids--mostly boys--burned, scarred and incapacitated, a U.S. mayor named Margot Cleary makes the decision to close the schools. Her 14-year-old daughter Jocelyn is caught "fighting," and Margot convinces Jos to demonstrate her power on her. In Jacksonville, Florida, a 16-year-old orphan named Allie practices her power at the cemetery and when good and ready, returns home to exact revenge on her sexually abusive foster father, a pastor. Following a voice she hears in her head, Allie hits the road.

Allie bought a sleeping bag early on from Goodwill. It smells but she airs it out every morning and it hasn't rained hard yet. She's been enjoying the journey, though her belly is empty most of the time and her feet are sore. There have been mornings she's woken just past dawn and seen the hard, bright edges of the trees and path drawn fresh by the morning sun and felt the light glittering in her lungs and she's been glad to be there. Once, there was a gray fox that kept pace with her for three days, walking a few arm lengths away, never coming close enough to touch but never drifting too far away either, except to take a rat once, returning with the body soft in her mouth and the blood on her muzzle.

Allie said to the voice: Is she a sign? And the voice said: Oh yes. Keep on trucking, girl.

While Allie takes refuge in a Catholic convent along with a growing number of runaway girls cast out of their homes for their power, Roxy Monke--whose father is feared crime lord Bernie Monke--goes on a raid for retribution in her mother's murder and demonstrates her considerable talent for stopping the hearts of her enemies. After CNN calls Tunde and offers to buy his videos, he drops out of school and heads to Riyadh, where right place and right time turns out to be a riot of tens of thousands of Saudi women he films marching through the city, without their male escorts. Worldwide fame ensues and Tunde promotes himself to documentarian of the new world order.

One year later, women have taken cities in the Third World. Teenage girls have shown an ability to awaken the power in older women. Scientists remain stumped. Mayor Cleary promotes a policy of abstinence--just don't do it--among girls but unknown to her constituents, sneaks out at night to develop her own power. The Mayor has big plans. So does Allie, who goes by the name "Eve" at the convent and shown an ability to heal misfit girls who haven't learned how to channel their energy. Picking and choosing the stories of the Bible that apply to women's liberation or power, she begins to preach a realigned gospel, and heal, earning the name "Mother Eve."

Skipping ahead another year, as news of her gospel travels, Mother Eve is visited by Roxy Monke. She drafts Roxy as her top soldier in time to repel a raid by law enforcement. When a woman is beaten and jailed by the police, Mother Eve leads a march to the police station that draws tens of thousands of women ready to kill or die at Mother Eve's command. Donations pour in from around the world. In Moldava, the sex trafficking capital of the world, First Lady Tatiana Moskalev assumes power and creates her own country--Bessapara--drawing Mother Eve, Roxy, Tunde and now Senator Cleary enter her orbit. Back in the States, a blogger known as UrbanDox grows followers.

The great change in the tide of things has been good for UrbanDox. He'd been blogging his mean-spirited, semi-literate, bigoted, angry rhetoric for years but, recently, more and more people--men and, indeed, some women--have started to listen. He'd denied over and over again being tied to the violent splinter groups that have bombed shopping malls and public parks in half a dozen states now. But, if he's not linked to them, they like to link themselves to him. One of the recent accurate bomb threats contained simply an address, a time and the web address of UrbanDox's latest screed on the Coming Gender War.

Everything good about The Power occurs in the first third of the book. As a new matriarchy sweeps the globe, Alderman imagines repressive regimes felled, sex trafficking eradicated and boys warned not to leave the house alone and never after dark. Religious doctrines recalibrate along myths featuring divine women. What Would Happen If Women Took Over is not a theme I'd seen explored in a big new novel and the dread and unease as this new order develops generates tension in the early going.

While I was reminded of The Twilight Zone throughout the first third of the book, Alderman slips and falls when faced with the task of expanding her uncanny twists into a novel. The most fully developed character is the only male--Tunde--who finds his human rights assailed in Bessapara and his work appropriated by an ex-girlfriend. The young Nigerian self-taught war correspondent is also at the center of the most satisfying action in the story. Alderman's female characters are archetypes--the avenging angel, the ambitious senator, the gangster's daughter—acting out plots.

Alderman doesn't have the capacity to introduce compelling characters or invest the reader in their fates, the way Stephen King can. It was hugely disappointing to see the conceit of a female dominated planet--where men scramble for equal rights--devolve into a routine smackdown of religious cults, drug traffickers and a civil war in a fake country right out of The A-Team. I was bored by all of the international intrigue and felt the best option might've been a short story centered on a runaway like Allie making her way across a country slipping into a new order. The Power isn't a bad novel, but it just wasn't the story I wanted to see.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,457 reviews8,560 followers
December 26, 2017
I feel so sad giving this book such a low rating because it had so much potential. It follows three female-identifying characters and one male-identifying character who reside in a world where girls and women have the power to produce electricity and hurt, torture, and kill people. This newfound ability brings about an amalgamation of changes, including political power plays, shifts in male-female relationship dynamics, and the burning question of girls' and women's new place in society. The Power portrays a host of challenging situations and scenes, including sexual assault and political warfare.

This book had so much unfulfilled potential. I love the premise, because it invites so many nuanced questions and discussions within the realm of feminism. What are the implications of empowering women just so they act more like men? As bell hooks writes, patriarchy has no gender, so what happens when one gender (or sex) gains power over their oppressors? What are the psychological benefits and costs of having this power? Unfortunately, these questions are only explored in the most rudimentary of ways in The Power. Instead of using scenes, dialogue, and character development to flesh out this dystopia/utopia and explore these meaningful questions, Naomi Alderman focuses only on portraying violence and shallow character interactions. While violence has a place in this world for sure, the book could have featured so much more. The commentary on gender dynamics, too, mostly took form in pithy one-liners with gender reversals that did not relay much nuance or insight.

My second main disappointment with The Power centers on its characters. They all felt one-note, interchangeable, and lacking in any depth that would motivate us to invest in them. Some of their perspectives felt too long and some felt too short. The pacing and organization of their respective sections made little logical sense. I wish Alderman had focused more on crafting these characters in a more comprehensive way so that readers could better connect to them.

I hate to say this, but I would not recommend this book. If interested in feminist writing, for fiction I would recommend The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood or Kindred by Octavia Butler, and for nonfiction I would recommend Appetites by Caroline Knapp or All About Love and The Will to Change by bell hooks, just to name a few. While I think Alderman aimed for cultural diversity by including a Nigerian character and Moldova as a setting in The Power, this attempt fell flat, similar to the rest of the book. I appreciate Alderman for trying with this concept, at the very least.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
August 24, 2018
5 Completely Rad and Rockin Stars.

There are some novels that you feel, from the tips of your fingers, all the way to the bottoms of your toes. This is one of them.

All at once, something happens, something strange, something inexplicable and yet, one by one.. every teenage girl experiences it. A feeling simply overtakes them and they strike out at everyone who has wronged them.

She feels the thing like pins and needles along her arms. Like needle-pricks of light from her spine to her collarbone, from her throat to her elbows, wrists, to the pads of her fingers. She's glittering, inside.

What can she do with it you ask? She touches you: a slight touch to the wrist and an electric current flows from her body to yours and her body awakens, she feels wholly alive. And you? You are in pain and you cannot move. It surges through you like a hot flame, rippling down your forearm, searing your skin, crackling and yet you can’t help but feel the excitement building, even if “The Power” kills you.

When girls come into their power, it is visible to all, through a skein on their necks. A movement is on the rise, in the good ole’ US of A and across the World. What starts out as girls trying to stop boys from overstepping, from harassing them, becomes something else entirely.

Allie’s home life was less than stellar, yet she escaped and now she takes care of those who can’t take care of themselves. Now known as Mother Eve, she oversees everyone and everything.

Roxy is a gal with sass. Her family is unlike most: they are London gangstas. She is the best and brightest and her abilities are unmatched. If you aren’t with her, you’re against her.

Tunde is a photographer. Once things go haywire.. bzzzt...his photos go national and he boldly follows the stories no one else dares.

Margot is a politician and she would like to believe that she’s making a difference in these trying times even though her own daughter Jocelyn struggles more than most. Margot’s arrogant, egotistical and unqualified male boss (who kind of reminded me of someone..) is planning to run for re-election which ends up igniting a fire in Margot too.

Their paths converge at different points in time and after that, well, all hell breaks loose.

At times, I shifted, edgy, uncomfortable, eyes wide - amazed. Then, unexpectedly, the corners of my mouth would haphazardly curve into a smile, in complete bewildered awe. Then I was horrified at myself for my inability to control my own reactions and scared by what was transpiring, I simply shuddered. “The Power” is transformative, in more ways than one. There is one scene, that I cannot unsee, one scene, that I admit got to me. And yet, it is sheer brilliance. I cannot help but be astounded.

If the dominant roles shifted and girls and women ruled the world, what would happen? Would boys and better yet, men, submit or would they fight back? Hmm.. food for thought, especially now, given the state of this nation. The parallels to today’s political climate were glaringly obvious and brilliant to boot.

Kudos to Naomi Alderman for her foresight, her storytelling and her amazing characters. This novel rocked my world and definitely belongs on my favorites shelf for 2018 and is one I highly recommend if you’re not afraid of a little sizzle.

Thank you to my friend Susan for the recommendation! You were right, I'm so glad I read this.

Published on Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 8.24.18.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,559 reviews852 followers
July 26, 2022
The concept and core way of storytelling in this book is marvelous! My take? - Man's 'power' is essentially tied to the fact he is physically stronger than the average woman - this innovative read flips the script and lays out a world where due to a biological change in woman - they have power!

For me, I completely loved the reality and so many of the characters; I just don't feel that the general path of the story fits in with what I believe would happen if the world's power structure was reversed... but hey ho, let's not get into spoiler territory. I Love that Alderman was inspired and supported by Margaret Atwood in this endeavour! I truly was unable to put this down and read it in under one and a half days. Ultimately I believe this is one of the 100 books of the 21st century that you have to read, as I can see a multitude of franchises being built around this core idea in the future. 8 out of 12.

I mean, you want proof? I have three copies of this book.. I couldn't resist buying additional copies when I saw them going for peanuts in thrift/charity shops!

2018 read
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books906 followers
February 1, 2019
Love the premise. Novels that explore power dynamics are often fascinating. This is like a globalized Lord of the Flies, with women instead of children. I've heard it described as a feminist novel, although I think part of the cleverness is the impossible-to-answer question of whether it's a feminist novel or not. On one hand it exposes the failures of men over history by turning the tables, but on the other - with women in charge, there's just as many wars, lies, oppression, murder and rape as there's been with men in power.

To me, the clear theme is that power inevitably corrupts regardless of who has it. With that interpretation, I only see it as a feminist novel by the way it shows the drastic need for gender equality, or power neutrality. I couldn't find any evidence to suggest it effectively advocates for women receiving supernatural powers. Except there is that novel-within-a-novel layer (written by a "man") to further the debate.

Now, all the positive aspects aside, I found the actual reading experience nightmarishly painful. The cast is made up entirely of disagreeable characters, which is fine, but I couldn't even love to hate them. There were also too many stories to tell. To truly deliver a global experience, we are thrust into melodrama on seemingly every continent. I wish we could have stayed still long enough to at least appreciate one aspect of an otherwise brilliant message.

Worst of all, the writing came across as embarrassingly immature. Every character loves the "F" word and spouts it constantly. Much of the action is essentially written as "ZAP! BANG! FUCK! ZAP! STAB! ZAP! FUCK!" It was awkward and cringe-worthy throughout, and I found myself speed-reading through the worst paragraphs so I could finally get to the end.

OVERALL: Despite having a great message on power and corruption, the delivery was such a disappointment I wish I hadn't wasted my time. Oh well.
Profile Image for Richard (on hiatus).
160 reviews182 followers
May 11, 2021
3.5 Stars:
Imagine a world in which women, over a short period of time, become more physically powerful than men.
This far reaching and potentially explosive turn of events is explored by Naomi Alderman in The Power, winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017.
Young women and girls are first to feel the power, the crackling electricity that emanates from a ‘skein’ (a muscle attached to the collar bone) allowing them to jolt, disable or kill with a simple touch. A power that gradually awakens and spreads out like tendrils or the branches of a tree, to girls and women around the world.
How will this transfer of power change society, politics, religion and the relationship between the sexes? Will the world become a calmer, gentler, more reasoned place or will it stay as complicated, violent, messy and unequal as it is now?
Alderman tells her story mainly through the experiences of four characters. Allie, a child abuse victim, Roxy the daughter of an London crime family, Tunde, a Nigerian photo journalist and American politician Margot.
The novel veers from snappy, contemporary drama to the style of a biblical fable. From dystopian thriller to a quirky novel of ideas. From CNN, Facebook, extreme political podcasts etc to drawings and artefacts from another age.
All wildly imaginative, but for me, it didn’t quite work.
As interesting and thought provoking as the ideas are (and they really are!) I was never really drawn into the story or felt close to any of the characters. The action, often gritty and violent felt a bit remote and the locations visited in the globetrotting narrative weren’t drawn in any great detail. A narrative device explains some of the above, but ultimately I never felt fully engaged.
However, on the plus side, the Power is well imagined, very original and will certainly make you think.
Profile Image for Ilenia Zodiaco.
260 reviews13.3k followers
September 15, 2017
Grande idea. La prospettiva di questo romanzo è capovolta. Le donne acquisiscono improvvisamente il potere di controllare l'energia elettrica (il titolo originale dell'opera è appunto "the power"). Ben presto questa abilità le porta a sopraffare gli uomini, sempre più marginalizzati e discriminati. Il rovesciamento del femminismo è un'ottica che spiazza il lettore e lo avvince completamente. A questo si aggiunge una prosa molto pop - forse un po' troppo, alcune svolte narrative sono trattate con estrema faciloneria, soprattutto le storyline a sfondo criminale - che si destreggia con punti di vista plurimi, in ambientazioni sparse in tutto il mondo, uno dei tratti più apprezzabili è infatti la portata globale e il respiro storico del libro della Alderman. Si sente il debito forte che la scrittrice ha - per altro senza farne mistero - con la mentore Margaret Atwood, di cui vengono ripresi molti nuclei tematici (la narrazione come testimonianza storica, in primis). A parte qualche forzatura nei dialoghi, il romanzo si rivela una lettura convincente, originale, "elettrica". Non vi aspettate un libro impeccabile, aspettatevi una rappresentazione piena di vitalità e violenza su quanto pesa la disparità di genere sulla nostra società.
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
477 reviews38.1k followers
June 8, 2021
This was MESSYYY.

I think Alderman tried to juggle too many things at once; it all jumbled together in a convoluted mess that in the end, didn't help but drown and pull the reader into an underwhelming sense of dissatisfaction and frustration.

The whole book was constantly building up towards something, but what that something is- we'll never know. Read for The Late Night Book Club, livestream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDKtk....

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Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
March 2, 2022
One morning, women all over the world begin developing a power: electricity, running through their fingers. The ensuing cataclysm, framed by documentation from the future, comes from four characters. There’s Roxy, 15-year-old white British daughter of a gangster; Tunde, a Nigerian journalist and the only man who narrates; Margot, an American mayor who develops the power despite her age; and Allie, a mixed-race abuse survivor who is stronger than normal in her power. As nations are conquered by women, things fall further and further apart.

This book primarily works as a subtle reverse of gendered power dynamics. Tunde’s first scene, and some further, are really strong. Tunde’s role in the book, specifically, feels like a specific reversal of the roles we're used to seeing women and men play in literature. His experience in the introduction to the book is an excellent metaphor for subtler forms of sexual violence and turns your expectations for the situation on their head very quickly.

This at first was really interesting to me. Over time, I realized it was all this book had to offer. Around 85%, I was seriously considering giving this book one star.

The characters here generally left me colder. Tunde was the only narrator in this book I actually consistently liked, though Roxy grew on me a lot by the end. What bugged me about the characterization in general, though, was how much the characterization seemed to serve as a vehicle for the plot. Margot’s motivations and personality fall off the track on about her second chapter and never return. Roxy is a solid narrator, but I never felt like I understood her. Tunde’s only stated motivation remains his newfound ambition to know, and we don’t get any sense of where that comes from, making it difficult to invest in. Allie’s motivations, criminally, remain fairly murky, indeed coming about primarily as a voice in her head.

As the characters are clearly not meant to be the focus here, the main interest should come in the storylines. Unfortunately that was not working for me, either. Past the halfway point, I struggled to stay invested in the narrative. Some of this may also be the writing’s at-times overdramatic quality; however, I really don’t think that’s the main concern here. Something about the storytelling here feels far more focused on the brutality of the moment, the violence inflicted, then on the human element behind it.

This specifically began to bother me in terms of sexual violence. There are at least four graphic rape or attempted rape scenes in this novel (excluding the many instances of sexual harassment or threatened assault). The first one made me wince, but reminded me of the flipping of the targets of sexual violence; I especially appreciated the fact that the perpetrator invoked ‘he was asking for it’ as justification. The second one made me wince a bit more. The third struck me as genuinely gratuitous. By the fourth, which is also simultaneously a murder scene, I was really really struggling to not put the book away.

We’ve all read novels by men who immediately jump to graphic sexual violence when they have no idea what to use as plot. I would like to think, on a meta level, that the author is commenting on this tendency. However, my feelings on the actual plot device—profoundly negative—do not change when the victims are men.

The author also seems to have not taken into account essentially any of the nuances of gender discrimination based on culture, or based on intersections with race, sexuality, or gender identity. The fact that the societies we see break down are almost entirely non-European, while America and Britain both stay intact, began needling at me a lot as the brutality increased. I would enjoy seeing the takes of Middle Eastern or African reviewers on this. It’s also interesting that the author seems to not have taken into account variations on gender identity beyond ‘cis man’ and ‘cis woman’ (one intersex character appears, but no mention of trans people) in a novel about gender as a construct.

The thing that worked for me the most about this book was actually, weirdly enough, the framing device. The idea that this book is actually a male author’s book about a far-back time in history, framed by his deferential letters with a female colleague, spoke volumes. It may not have been enough to make this book a favorite, but it certainly left me with less of a bitter taste in my mouth. I only wish the rest of the book had worked so well.

TW: rape (graphic), sexual harassment, abuse.

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Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,070 followers
July 16, 2017
"Are patriarchies peaceful because men are peaceful? Or do more peaceful societies tend to allow men to rise up to the top because they place less value on the capacity for violence?" ponders a male historian living in a matriarchal world where women hold the power.

This book doesn't just flip gender roles. It delves into complicated discussions around systemic oppression, power, rape culture, gender, and religion. The book is an unflinching dystopian yet also a mirror of our world today. It forces you to ask hard questions about your beliefs. It's also a ridiculously gripping story that had me sucked in and invested in every character.

EVERYONE should read this book. I am still reeling from it and am going to need some time to sit with it to get out my full thoughts together.

Major TW for rape and assault.
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
135 reviews17.3k followers
April 11, 2019
2.5, well I hyped this up in my head way more than I should have stars!!

Full review featured on my blog Recipe & a Read!

Across the globe, young girls are waking up with unimaginable, unexplained power. With the touch of their hand they’re able to inflict searing, indescribable pain to the point of even death. As girls the world over are discovering this newly awakened power, that has been dormant in women for as long as we can remember, they also discover they’re able to “awaken” the power in the older generations as well. The implications of this shift to the power structure of the world are numerous. Governments, the media, society itself begins changing rapidly as women begin to exercise this power more and more. No longer are women afraid to walk the streets alone, but men must now be looking over their shoulder and preparing instead.

As power shifts from men to women, it begs the big questions: What if women were in power? What if women were the “stronger” and more “powerful” sex? How would this affect our world and what would it look like if women were thrust into running the world? The Power is told from alternating POVs between numerous young girls coming into their new found skills, and a young man who captures some of the first glimpses of women the world over exercising this change in gender dynamics.

The shape of power is always the same: it is infinite, it is complex, it is forever branching.

Well, I put a lot of hype into this book in my head and so maybe my disappointment is my own fault. Regardless of how much I built this novel up, it really let me down. For me, it’s always the worst when I feel like a story has so much promise and then falls flat with it’s lofty goals. The Power was such a unique take on a old tale that I felt like it was bound to knock me off my chair, ask important questions and challenge my view of the world. What started out incredibly strong, interesting and full of unique vision ultimately fell flat and completely missed the mark for me personally.

I’ve considered myself a pretty staunch feminist for the majority of my life. Since “feminist” is sometimes considered a bad word, I’ve also spent a good deal of time explaining what feminism actually is and what it is not. What it is not, is men hating or wanting women to treat men the way men have treated women – which is oppression. There’s a great Chinese proverb that says “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle” and that’s something that has always spoken to me. Women do not want a world in which they can treat men the way they’ve been treated, it’s simply about fighting the patriarchy to have equal representation. The Power really jumbled that message for me.

It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.

Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a chance that women could come into some kind of latent power and then become violent and oppressive. That’s definitely a possibility, but it’s reductive to me. Women have been fighting for equal rights, equal representation, equal pay for so long that I would’ve preferred to see women liberated instead of high on power. I also found it unrealistic that Islamic women, after an entire history of oppression begin ripping off their traditional garb and mobbing in the streets. As more and more girls come into this power, society completely collapses into a sea of gratuitous violence and still, a lot of sexism. Yes, women are the one’s in power but how is it that as feminists we can spend all this time talking about wanting to see a world free of sexism while simultaneously plugging books that promote sexism? This didn’t feel like a “win” for women to me.

Past the larger, more theological issues I had with this book I also found that it really dragged for me after about the first quarter. The set up and the premise were incredibly interesting, I was originally semi-invested in some of the characters and how their stories would develop. However, as time went on I found a lot of the POVs to be redundant and best and a snore-fest at worst. There was too much time spent developing the violence and getting back at men, and not enough time developing the characters and their place within the overall story.

Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn’t. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it’s hollow. Look under the shells: it’s not there.

As I’ve mentioned before I don’t normally post quotes that I specifically didn’t like, but what is this even saying? How does this even relate to the story? A lot of this read like it was trying incredibly hard to be deep and philosophical and it totally missed the mark for me. In the end, this book was not for me. It was a total failure or loss because the premise was absolutely unique and very interesting. I continued to read on in hopes that things would improve but I was ultimately let down.
Profile Image for Blaine.
747 reviews604 followers
August 13, 2021
It doesn't matter that she shouldn't, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.
We live in a world where the pendulum of power is tilted toward men, frozen in place by millennia of governments and traditions backed up ultimately (and usually, but not always, implicitly) by brute, physical strength. But what if, almost overnight, women get a source of power that makes them physically stronger than men?

The Power is essentially a thought experiment that asks what would happen next? Would women be content to simply move the pendulum of power to a state of gender equality? Would they insist on moving the pendulum as far to their side as it had once been toward men? Or, suddenly able to make up for those millennia of oppression, would women grab that pendulum and move it as far to their side as humanly possible?

Told through the eyes of six different characters, and using a ‘book within a book’ format that pays off in the final pages, The Power lays out one possible vision for what would happen if the tables were ever so turned. And in doing so, by hypothesizing about what might happen in such a future, this book exposes powerfully how unfairly, and sometimes brutally, women are actually treated around the world right now.

The comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale are obvious. Both are works of literary and science fiction that have been and should be studied critically. But I personally found The Power to be a more satisfying read. Maybe it’s the current political climate, but there’s an anger coursing through this book that resonated with me in a way that The Handmaid’s Tale did not. More than that, this book has serious points to make about the nature of the balance of power in society, and whether—as is so often said—having women in charge would result in a ‘kinder, more caring world’.

Wrapping up, I thought The Power was amazing, easily one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years. An absolute must read.

Updating to add: I read this book two years ago, and I still think about it at least once a week.
Profile Image for Sandra.
224 reviews50 followers
August 1, 2020
The Power by Naomi Alderman. What would you do if you were young and started developing a strange power that was beyond your control?
This is what is happening to teenage girls all over the world. They find they have a prominent skein across their collar bone that can discharge an electrical current that can causes intense pain and even death to others. As they learn to control this strange phenomenon they find they can wake this dormant power in older women.
We follow a number of people....... Allie running from foster carers in America, voices in her head showing her the way forward. Roxy in England, seeing her mum murdered, taking her revenge and going on the run.
Margo a politician trying to help young girls control their changing bodies, setting up North Star training camps. Her daughter Jocelyn struggling with her power - she is shunned for not being ‘normal’ as her skein has not developed fully and will not always work.
Tunde a young man who sees the opportunity to chronicle the changing world, travelling, experiencing, filming, his outlet the media or his own social network.
The women protest, riot, hit back at the male governments, police force and army. They are the strong ones... they have the power! The world shifts and changes.
I loved the challenging thought provoking feel of the book and the religious quotes....God is She !
The plot of the book is a book within a book. A male author is writing a book to try and show how the world was hundreds of years ago, his editor says he books is good but can he expect people to really believe that men once ran the world, caused wars and were warriors? The ending was subtle and funny....spot on 😊
The Power won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2017.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,376 reviews1,431 followers
January 21, 2018
In The Power, young women have developed the ability to control electricity. It shifts the balance of power between the sexes and the world begins to come apart at the seams.

It is told from the point of view of a few women and a man. They each have different stories and experiences that Naomi Alderman blends together to create a powerful statement about how we live.

This is one of the most disturbing books I've ever read, but also, most brilliant. It made me think about all of the internal biases I have when it comes to gender, cultural expectations and roles.

Who was it who said: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." This book is an examination of power and how it has shaped the world, not always for the better.

The monumental societal shift starts out small enough. A man named Tunde captures a moment between a young woman and a man who was hitting on her at the grocery store: "Tunde is recording when she turns around. ... There she is, bringing her hand to his arm when he smiles and thinks she is performing mock-fury for his amusement. If you pause the video for a moment at this point, you can see the charge jump." loc 261, ebook.

Those who have been abused are more likely to become abusers. And there are many, many abused women in the world.

"A strange new kind of fighting which leaves boys- mostly boys, sometimes girls- breathless and twitching, with scars like unfurling leaves winding up their arms or legs or across the soft flesh of their middles. Their first thought after disease is a new weapon, something these kids are bringing into school, but as the first week trickles into the second they know that's not it." loc 316, ebook.

Entire governments crumble to powerful women. Women who have been locked up their entire lives roam the streets, free. Soon enough, they're locking up and abusing the men, because they can.

Religions change. Sexual predilections change. New politicians are elected. New soldiers are trained.

"Allie thinks, God is telling the world that there is to be a new order. That the old way is overturned. The old centuries are done." loc 681, ebook.

The new scourge of third world countries are powerful, uncontrolled women.

"He wounds three of the women in the leg or arm and the others are on him like a tide. There is a sound like eggs frying. When Tunde gets close enough to show what has been done, he is perfectly still, the twisted-vine marks across his face and neck so thick that his features are barely discernible." loc 884, ebook.

I think book clubs may find plenty to talk about in this book- if they can make it through. There are some very disturbing scenes.

"Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn't. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it's hollow. Look under the shells: it's not there." loc 4780, ebook.

In a time when so many women may feel powerless or voiceless, The Power may speak directly to them. It is, as I've said, a disturbing book, but also a conversation starter.

To quote Victor Hugo: Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. And, in my mind, it was the perfect time for this book to be written.
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