“You’ve explained to me how anything you do is framed by your gender, that the frame is as inescapable as it is nonsensical. Every book you write is assessed as part of ‘men’s literature.’
-Naomi Alderman, The Power
as Hey guys! The lovely Elke from Viking Books sent me a copy of The Power by Naomi Alderman not too long ago, to celebrate it winning the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it from the blurb, as though it sounded very promising and I enjoy reading good, feminist pieces of literature, I don’t tend to read much Sci-Fi or dystopian books. But, I’m always up for exploring a new book and diving in regardless, so that’s what I did!
Check out the blurb:
All over the world women are discovering they have the power.
With a flick of their fingers they can inflict terrible pain-even death.
Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they’ve lost control.
The day of the girls has arrived-but where will it end?
The Power is a feminist Sci-Fi dystopian read that subverts the past hundreds of thousands of years of male dominated history to re-imagine a future where women take, quite literally, the power.
In this vision of the future, young girls everywhere suddenly discover that they have an electrical skein somewhere beneath their collar bones (or thereabouts), that allows them to output an electrical shock. It can be a small shock…. It can also kill. With a handful of characters, both female and male, The Power documents the shift in power through the years, starting with ten years to go until the historical event known as the Cataclysm, and ending with the rather ominous “here it comes”. Showcasing a brilliantly diverse cast, we see the effects of this shift in power around the globe, with an intrepid journalist, a leader of what seems to be a developing religious cult, and more key figures.
It is gripping and disturbing and written superbly well, leaving you with plenty of thought-provoking material to mull over, long after you’ve turned the final page.
To make it even more meta, The Power is presented to us as a historical novel, written by one Neil Adam Armon, and framed by letters between Neil, the author, and Naomi herself. In what is a brilliantly effective, shocking twist, we see the parallels of sexism, turned on its axis and echoed back to us in what is unfortunately an all too recognisable attitude in the final letters, after the end of the book.
This is a fantastically conceived book that absolutely deserves a read, and undertakes a massive concept in reversing millennia of sexism in a way that doesn’t feel clunky or preachy, but rather focuses on the human details of it all, in an all-inclusive manner, then wraps it up in a punchy plot that is a very concise 339 pages.
I’m giving this one 5/5 stars and am thrilled that it won the Baileys prize, Naomi Alderman thoroughly deserves it for this strong, fiercely intelligent novel.