The Power

English language

Published July 10, 2017

ISBN:
978-0-670-91998-7
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4 stars (78 reviews)

The Power is a 2016 science fiction novel by the British writer Naomi Alderman. Its central premise is women developing the ability to release electrical jolts from their fingers, thus leading them to become the dominant gender.In June 2017, The Power won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. The book was also named by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2017.

6 editions

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

Very interesting story. Overall, I really liked the first half of the book that explored the subtle shift in power from men to women and the cultural implications of that shift on an international level. The story went a bit off the rails for me in the later parts when it was obvious this would lead to the fall of modern civilization. It got a bit too "global" to hold my interests.

There were several themes that I struggled with. The obvious flipping the script of pushing terrible acts by women on men because they hold the power, like roaming rape gangs, overt sexual assault, and gender based humiliation I felt was a bit too heavy handed. Almost as if the author didn't trust women to take their own historical context and perspective into account when they suddenly have more societal power.

On one hand, I get it. I understand …

Review of 'The Power' on 'Storygraph'

2 stars

I read The Power because the concept sounded intriguing and it had received a fair amount of praise. Unfortunately, the book really didn't work for me. I never felt very engaged, found the characters flat and the writing choppy. I read through it quickly not because I was enjoying it, but because I wanted it to be over and in the hope that whatever helped it garner so much praise was just around the corner; it wasn't.

A major problem was the unbelievable rate and cruelty with which the world degenerated. I think this could been balanced by a character that attempted to use the power for good, or at least more subtly. I understand, based on the emails at the end, that this was a man's view of what might've happened in the past and that he probably chose to emphasis the brutality of those events whilst ignoring any …

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I knew the basic premise, thought I knew what to expect, but even so this book knocked me over. Surprisingly well developed: Alderman clearly thought the whole thing through. Over and over she tosses in twists that make perfect sense in hindsight, some fun, some very much not, most of them deserving of a pause for the reader to digest, few of them succeeding in that because the tension is so high. It was fun: enjoyable reading, and a memorable worldviewtopsyturvification that keeps me still wondering: what if?

There's a lot to gripe about: the hearing-voices gimmick didn't work for me, and there are rather a lot of eyeroll moments, but none of that mattered. I fell for the characters, fell hard for the story and the what-ifs. Just ramp up your suspension-of-disbelief filter to five or six, accept the wild improbabilities, and move along. Pause and wonder …

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

2.5 stars. This book succeeds as a thought experiment but ultimately fails as a novel. The premise — which has been called “feminist” but which I felt was somewhat misogynist — is this: If women magically developed the power to physically dominate men, more powerful than the physicality men have always had to dominate women, then women would become just as corrupt and abusive as some men have been. Everything would be flipped: Men would become the victims of sex trafficking, violent rape, slavery, etc. The problem is that it’s just not believable. A world with women in charge would certainly be different, but not in the way the author describes. Worse, from a literary perspective, the women in the novel are all one-note and meant to illustrate a particular type (mobster, warlord, etc.) rather than to succeed as fully-developed characters. It’s telling that the only complex and sympathetic character …

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This book is the equivalent of the lovechild of Margaret Atwood and Stephen King eloping with "The Girl with All the Gifts." A book within a book, it imagines a world in which women radiate electrical currents from a "skein" near their throat. As a result, they become the dominant sex. The story is set during the time when the tides turned, and ultimately shows how power corrupts. This isn't high-minded literature, but it is a fun romp with some interesting characters.

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This book was filled with a sprinkle of really good, intense, descriptive scenes (like the refugee camps with the kids in the barrel), but otherwise fell short for me. It seemed like the author kind of lost focus with some of the characters, just writing to fill the pages and not bringing it all together into a cohesive story. I found myself asking, “wait, what?” multiple times and rereading pages to understand what was going on. Interesting premise and idea, and I don’t regret the read, but I think this would have been better suited in a short story format.

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Minor Spoilers

What I liked about it: Exploring the relation between religion, myth-making, and power. And the smooth writing.

Other than that, there was so much lacking in this book. It's violent, deliberately so. But it doesn't do enough with its premise to explore the dynamics of the world it creates beyond the initial upheaval. The finale was quite disappointing for me; there's too much left to the imagination about what happens, when that's the critical element of the book.

Still, a fun read.

Review of 'The Power' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

This book wasn't what I expected it to be. Or rather, it was more than I expected it to be.

A few weeks ago, I read an article by Naomi Alderman in which she talked about this book and said, "Nothing happens to a man in the book that hasn't happened to a woman." It piqued my interest. It also set my expectations. I was expecting a book that used a sci-fi setting to challenge my assumptions about gender and what it means to be a man or woman.

I wasn't let down. Alderman carefully traces the shift in culture as women take on the power that men usually assume is theirs (in some cases without even realizing that they've done so). And it's a fascinating portrayal of what happens.

But the book is more than that. As the title promises, The Power is an exploration of power. Alderman looks …

Review of 'The Power' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

The book is about gender and capacity for violence. The author examines the role of respectively male higher capacity for violence and female higher fear of such violence in constituting the nature of masculinity and femininity. The way she approaches it is by creating a new premise - at some point young women acquired an ability for violence considerably higher than the one men possess. Initially the results seem good - there are numerous cases of abuse and of inequality which are not sustainable anymore. Then, though, women start using their newly acquired power to oppress, just as men used to do.
The author's point is that in a society built on respect for power and violence, gender differences constitute an expression of women's place within hierarchies rather than an expression of some inherently different nature.

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