The Future is Female: "The Power" by Naomi Alderman

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Allie, a young runaway in and out of foster care who starts what most would consider a religious cult worshipping Mother Mary or a female God.

 Roxy, a young woman from London, whose father was the head of a local mob gang, until she takes over.

 Margot, an ambitious local politician who steadily climbs the ranks and finds comfort on the national political stage.

 Joselyn, Margot’s daughter, who struggles with her new normalcy, or lack thereof.

 And, Tunde, a male reporter who captures the female revolution around the world.

When the first incidents of women discharging electricity from their bodies is recorded, several men die or are severely injured due to the intensity of the electric shocks.  In addition, women can pass on their skein to other women who have yet to activate their new inner power.  At first, no men have skeins or electrical currents enumerating from their bodies.  Later in the novel, it is revealed that some men, although rare, do have skeins.  Just the same, some women, never develop skeins or do have a skein but their power comes and goes.

What I Liked

I found Margot and Allie to be the most interesting characters in their own rights, with Allie and the voices in her head leading a bunch of girls like sheep.  And Margot, who failed to genuinely help her daughter with her emotional and mental health because she is too blinded by the greed of money and political domination.  Tunde, who initially started out as my least favorite character, was eventually almost raped by a woman who tried to incapacitate him with her electrical shocks.  Tunde showed his vulnerability as both a man – in a woman dominated world – and a journalist, risking his life on every possible terrain, just trying to seize a good story to share with the world.  I thought Tunde was very metaphoric in how women feel on a daily basis, consciously aware of our surroundings at all times, hoping that our precautions will prevent us from falling victim to any attacks simply because we are a woman.  Tunde was constantly both in fear and awe of women, recognizing that a woman could easily and quickly take his life, simply because he was a man.

I also liked how this book illustrates that world domination, simply based on gender, doesn’t necessarily make it a better place.  You often hear people say, “If women ran the world, there’d be no wars.”  The Power gives a “yeah right” to that false assumption, demonstrating that women too can be stupefied by the many forms of power, physical, emotional, mental or financial.  War and the exchange of arms still takes place.  Sexual assault still takes place.  Segregation still takes place.  Even the isolation of women and girls in camps takes place.  The world, in Alderman or “Armon’s” view, didn’t necessarily get better simply because women took over.

What I Did Not Like

I’ll be honest. I do not think this book is the “next Handmaid’s Tale,” as many critics suggest.  It got rave reviews and is about a women led utopia (or dystopia); so, I thought it’d be a cool fictional novel for Women’s History Month.  Sigh.  I could’ve read something a little darker and more gratifying like Stephen King’s “Sleeping Beauties.”  There were several moments in the book where I was bored.  Some characters were more boring than others.  For example, I thought certain characters, like Roxy, were fillers.  Although she eventually crosses paths with Allie, her character didn’t captivate me or make me feel like she provided a major contribution to the overall plot.  I felt like it was a slow read and the excitement really didn’t pick up until I was 200 pages in.  I thought that the description of how the women feel, when they use their power, could’ve been more detailed.  The author could’ve dug a little deeper.  Is it worth reading? Sure.  Is it something that I want to read again? No.  Nonetheless, I’m sure there’s already a sequel and movie in the works.

 

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