Samantha's Reviews > The Power

The Power by Naomi Alderman
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I have a feeling I'll be thinking about this book for a while yet, trying to decide how I feel about it. Such an interesting premise and sometimes very tense with anticipation of what might happen. But in the end, such a dark vision that it's hard to stomach. Too dystopian for me, maybe. I worried from the get-go that this was going to be little more than a gender flip of rape culture and leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I can't dismiss that critique at the end.

You've heard that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That's the underlying philosophy of the book. When young women start developing the power to wield electricity, gender power relationships take a sudden hard flip. We follow three young women, one older one, and a young man through the landscape of change. And sure enough, power corrupts and the newly powerful women are corrupted by it.

A wider diversity of spokesperson characters might have helped. Maybe a wider range of ages and life experiences would have led to a more nuanced exploration of the kinds of societal arguments that would have arisen under these circumstances. But we had three angry women (whom we gave plenty of reasons to be angry), only one of whom seemed to have any use for men in her life. And that one? Well, the very men she loved directly betrayed her.

I can't dismiss the story out of hand, though. There was something compelling about a lot of it. I was especially interested in Roxy Monke, who was the most directly criminal at the beginning, but turned out to have a stronger moral center than any of them. She came the closest to having an arc and learning something from the life she was given and I was really disappointed that her storyline went the way it did. The other characters all stayed static, which left them feeling more like mouthpieces than fully realized characters. I didn't invest all that deeply in them as I read.

The book is also a little too proud of its own cleverness and left me rubbing my ribs where they'd been jabbed to make sure I noticed each reference/parody/satire moment. Not a book that places much faith in its own readers in that way.
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Reading Progress

November 30, 2019 – Started Reading
November 30, 2019 – Shelved
December 8, 2019 – Finished Reading

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