The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power shakes with such ferocious intensity that it is impossible to put down once you’ve started.

Women around the world are having an electrical power woken up inside of them. Times are quickly changing and a mass reversal of power is capturing the world by storm. Women can inflict terrifying pain with just a twist of their wrists, how will this change the world?

This book has a very intense and scary message about power. We as people have this horrible ability ot be corrupted by an increase of power and Alderman illustrates that perfectly. We see it all throughout the novel but the first instance that was really intense and visceral for me happened on page 64 during the first occurence of a womens riot,

“They are going car to car, setting the motors revving and the engine blocks burning into molten heat. Some of them can do it without touching the cars; they send their lines of power out from their bodies and they are laughing.”

I thought this was an excellent scene because it is very remniscient of real riots and crowd mentality. When a group recognizes that they have the high ground they are more likely to commit mass demonstrations of power if the group deems it necessary. But, Alderman doesn’t just show group corruption, she shows how the individual can be corrupted. This is specifically shown through Margot, the mayor of a major city. Margot has the power woken up in her through her daughter and it quickly seeps into her political life. She uses it to become the governor of her state and even uses it to further her military desires. A moment that stood out to me in particular happens on page 78, when she is in a meeting with her adversary.

“She could kill them. That is the profound truth of it. She lets the power tickle at her fingers, scorching the varnish on the underside of the table. She can smell its sweet chemical aroma. Nothing either of these men says is really of any great significance, because she could kill them in three moves before they stirred in their comfortably padded chairs.”

This feels so true to me. People are quick to use their power against those they deem less than them, and I could see this really happening. Alderman’s writing feels so authentic it’s scary.

The religious aspect of this story is intriguing because at first I thought that the new challenge to religion wasn’t inherently bad. The quote that warmed me up to it was this,

“They have said to you that man and woman should live together as husband and wife. But I say unto you that is more blessed for women to live together, to help one another, to band together and be a comfort one to the next.”

I thought this was interesting and it gave me the hope that maybe this religious sect wouldn’t become driven by power and lose control, that it was about comfort and an alternate lifestyle Well, I was wrong as you would expect and it was a powerful blow. This novel is a constant wave of it can’t get worse but then it does. You can feel each blow and it makes the novel powerful.

It is really surreal to read this novel because it does a complete flip from men in places of power to women, and the women will often say phrases that are stereotypically associated with men. It is odd to watch the reversal of rolls and it will leave a strange taste in your mouth, an unreal taste. I first got this feeling really intensely on page 256 when the leader of the female led nation, Besspara, is talking to one of her inferiors. She says to him,

“Just like a man,” she says. “Does not know how to be silent, thinks we always want to hear what he has to say, always talking talking talking, interrupting his betters.”

I was like whoa, I’ve heard variations of phrases like this but with the “gender rolls” reversed. It was kind of like a lightbulb moment for me and Alderman’s message was shining through. It added even more intensity to her writing. it threw me for a loop but in a good way. This happens quickly again on page 261 and it blew my mind,

“Sometimes a bloke is better at that than a woman–less threatening; they’re better at diplomacy.”

I swear I have heard this exact quote but a male talking about a female. It’s at this point that this alternate world really falls into place. A full picture is created and you can see how Alderman really has created this opposite history, the world is flipped in way that is both unbelievable and believable.

I have a few more quotes written down but I am afraid that I will give too much away. I’ll make it simple and just say that Alderman sets laws in place in her novel that are completely believable and scary. I feel like if something like this were to really happen Alderman’s commentary could end up a reality. It’s frightening.

This novel feels so real. Every aspect of society is touched on. It covers religious corruption, government, crime, education, and the military. Alderman knew that she had to incorporate all of these pieces to properly create an alternate history where women have the upperhand in strength. She does it like a master of the craft and blew me away. I can’t come up with any complaints because it is done so well. Every piece of this puzzle fits into place and took my breath away.

The Power earns an easy 5/5 stars.

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Published by

Savannah Worman

My name is Savannah, you can call me Sav. I am a recent Oregon State graduate, Siletz tribal member, and aspiring book critic. Join me on this exploration of the literary world around us. You’re sure to find something you like. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments feel free to hit me up on the contact page! I live in the Pacific Northwest with my boyfriend, my Havanese/Aussie Shepard Stark, my Jack Russell/Shih Tzu Daenerys, and my son Finn.