Audiobook Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman (published by Penguin)
WOW! I luurrrrrrrvvved this book! It’s science fiction with a feminist slant and a hint of dystopia. It tells of an event that sees almost all the women in the world suddenly having the ability to create electricity from their bodies (from a new ‘organ’ called a skein) and electrocute at will. And then lays out a scenario for what the world would become if the women became the more powerful gender.
The skein, found under a woman’s collarbone, has lain dormant until this moment, and then all female babies are born with it, completely shifting the balance of power. The Power follows the story of a few key characters, including Roxy, a cockney girl with a super powerful skein that comes from a gangster family; Ally, a girl in the US whose religious foster parents are cruel and twisted, and who becomes the legendary religious figure ‘Mother Eve’; Tunde, a Nigerian lad who happens to film a woman using her skein against a man, posts it to YouTube and goes on to become a well-respected reporter covering the front line events sparked by the event; Margot, a politician in the US who uses the girl’s power for her own gain setting up an elite female only training camp. We also hear from Margot’s daughter Jocelyn, as well as Darrell, Roxy’s brother.
Ally hears a voice – God? – who prompts her to reinvent herself as a religious leader. Ally becomes Mother Eve and can use her power to heal people, and to unblock skeins that are not functioning fully. She gathers to her a huge following across the world and ends up in a female only country that is packing a lot of nuclear arms, and what was once South Moldova, preaching peace and a new thinking about faith where women are at the forefront. Roxy, managing her own power struggles within the family gang, befriends Mother Eve and starts a tidy business making a drug called Glitter that soups up a women’s skein. And Tunde gets tied up in it all with his daredevil reporting.
Throughout the narrative are little museum ‘audio guides’ for post-cataclysm artefacts, dropping hints at what is to come. And then it becomes clear that this is a ‘telling’ of what happened written thousands of years after the event, when women now rule.
This was a seriously thought-provoking novel. Repressed women, for example in Saudi and Moldova fight back viciously and treat men as they have previously been treated, with violence, torture, rape. Mother Eve is looking to create a more benevolent humankind, but then sets off whatever it is that causes the cataclysm, wipes everyone out and restarts the world, like the great flood. Roxy, although horrified by some of the scenes of glittered-up female soldiers hunting out men, has also used her power to kill, maim and generally cause bloodshed. So, this book hints that some women, now the stronger sex, will treat men just the same as some men currently treat women – there’s not going to be equality or some utopia where both sexes live in perfect harmony. Oh no, women will dominate, and will be cruel and will take advantage of being physically stronger.
There is a kind of epilogue that details letters between the male author of this ‘telling’ and his female literary agent (I think) which are brilliant in their obvious role reversal. The female effortlessly, and without much thought, patronises, belittles and dismisses the male. A brilliant ending.
I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a book that really makes you think!
My rating: 5/5
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