The Power by Naomi Alderman

Published by Viking

IT was a shock to learn this novel was only released in 2016. Not because its themes could never feel anything but piercingly current, but because the praise and impact it has drawn have already seen it hailed as a classic.

This admiration itself, however, is entirely unsurprising. With season one of its promising television adaptation starring Toni Collette out now, The Power is an unmissable read.

While there are mature themes, an audience of around 16 and slightly older will find it both near impossible to put down and intellectually and emotionally challenging in a way that encourages growth, thought, and of course, conversation.

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“What if the roles were reversed?” Seems an incredibly simple question, and an incredibly difficult one to fully imagine in a society where systems of oppression seem to have been set forever.

A place where anger from women toward men is often only anger yet the anger of men toward women has a history of violence backed up by the structures of the patriarchy.

Alderman takes on the challenge of this deceptively simple thought and spins it into a whole new world in which not only are the roles reversed, they are so believably and intensely.

In a world just like our own, a change begins to occur, in which teenage girls discover something within themselves has awakened.

It is an ability to send painful electric shocks from their hands, the kind that can stun, injure and kill just as lightning could. Placed into the hands of teenage girls – a group often overlooked as weak, but who go through a great deal of emotional and physical challenges in the transition from girlhood to womanhood – it is far more lethal than anyone could expect.

The mother of one of these girls, Joselyn, is Margot, an ambitious American mayor who learns not only that this power can be taught to older women, but that the recently discovered organ which holds it is not at all present in men.

Through the perspectives of a series of central figures in this great revolution, including Margot, Roxy Monke, the daughter of an English gangster looking for a chance to prove herself, Allie a once-abused orphan positioning herself as the movement’s prophet, and Tunde, one of the few key men who is the journalist breaking the story.

At first, many of the killings are accidents in fights or revenge against the worst kind of men, but as the power is spread from girl to girl, and girls to women, it becomes an unstoppable force which will change gender dynamics forever.

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As this story naturally progresses, with Margot, Roxy and Allie at the very heart of its political, criminal and religious impacts, men begin to lose everything they once had.

When not only physical power is taken from men, but they begin to also be degraded socially, with their worth questioned, the book’s point comes into great focus. Just as the reader thinks of how ridiculous and brutal this dystopian world in which one sex dominates the other so cruelly is, there is a stark and priceless moment of “Oh”.

I would recommend this to anyone getting into feminist literature.