In honour of International Women’s Day, I’m here with my review of a popular feminist novel!
The Power by Naomi Alderman
In The Power the world is a recognisable 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 agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday TimesYoung Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
(3.5 stars, rounded up to four)
I really enjoyed this book. It’s one of those books that tries to shove a message down your throat, so just know that going in. And because I knew that, I didn’t mind the message-shoving.
I think the metaphor (electrocuting = rape) was brilliant. It allowed Alderman to really explore the topic in so many different ways, and demonstrated the reality for a lot of women. I liked the array of characters and the exploration of different contexts. It was super interesting. I liked that it wasn’t 100% focused on the Western context.
In terms of writing, characters, and pacing, I feel like they could all be classified as “fine.” The writing got it’s point across, the characters were interesting enough, the pacing was pretty good. Of those three, I think the pacing was the weakest and the writing was the strongest. None of them stood out, though, as either very bad or very good.
My biggest issue was (unsurprisingly) the ending, BUT I did find it interesting and…….compelling?? **spoilers** The thought that we have to blow up the world and have a total annihilation of everything is interesting. And honestly how it feels sometimes. Progress happens so slowly that it sometimes seems easier to blow everything up and start over. **end of spoilers**
I also LOVED the interspersing of “historical artifacts” throughout, and thought it was so interesting. There’s one that stood out to me, largely because Alderman mentioned it in the acknowledgments. There’s one based on two actual sculptures (below). In the Power, they are called “The Priestess Mother” and “Servant Boy.” In real life, they are called “Dancing Girl” and “the Priest King,” despite us knowing nothing about the figures depicted. In the acknowledgments, Alderman highlights this and says something to the effect “I feel like the whole point of the book could be conveyed with these facts.” Which has really stuck with me.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you think it’s something you’re interested in. Just keep in mind the message-shoving.
So those are my thoughts on The Power. Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Let me know!