The Power by Naomi Alderman – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Wow. I did not anticipate this to be so… Chilling.
Recommended: Yes. But you need to be ready for it.
For a look into power, for a painful clever parallel with lots of tongue-in-cheek moments, for something that will challenge your perceptions about society and your own patterns of thinking, for an unflinching story of a world in the midst of change
In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
I wasn’t ready for this. I should have known better, but I went into this thinking “Oh, it’ll be a fun fantasy read about how crazy the world is after women develop the power to create and control lightning!” Looking back, I don’t know how I was so wrong, but I’m glad I was because this story blew me away when I least expected it.
First of all, I love the setup with the letter before and after, the way this is presented as a manuscript review between Naomi and Neil from a time when the idea of men as warriors and those in charge is so unbelievable as to discredit those who claim it was ever the case. Think of the super pushy conspiracy theorists, and you’ve about got it. It reminded me of Pale Fire, and it adds another brilliant, shuddery element to the whole thing.
The trip through the different characters’ paths in this time starts as you would expect: panic, paranoia, fear. But the way it develops throughout, branching into military training camps, civil wars in new countries, endless riots, new forms of genital mutilation, ritual sacrifice and torture…. Probably the scariest thing of all that is the chilling reminders that this is not a fantasy situation that could only happen after half the world’s population develops an unheard of new ability. This is reflection of current affairs around the world, just with a different kind of twist being the cause and mighty weapon.
There were many times I found myself laughing and having a hard time believing the characters’ disbelief at a world ruled by men. Then I stopped cold when I realized that the characterizations within, despite showing some of the extreme possibilities, are still my current reality and possibilities that exist in this world. Genital mutilation? It exists. Abuse of power? It exists. One gender oppressed and smothered due to social perceptions? Definitely exists. And I can’t even count how many cruel, immoral, and evil things are done in the name of some God or religion or aggressive insistence in the lack thereof.
You have to be ready for this book. I wasn’t, and maybe it was better that way, because it hit me without warning like a punch to the gut, and the impact was all the greater for it. Here’s your word of advice though, and your recommendation to immediately find a copy of this and a few hours to read.
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