Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Review!: The Power by Naomi Alderman

I read this book in about two days between Christmas and New Year after buying it as a little Christmas present to myself (because self care? Treat yo self?). The Power is set up with opening and closing letters between a male historian/author who is asking for advice and opinions on his book from a female author, the relationship between them subverted to that of a matriarchy with his letters full of "just wondering" and "thank you for taking the time" and her's with more of a "oh that's a fun little idea" patronising language. The story he is working on makes up the bulk of The Power, sandwiched between these letters. Told through four or five points of view and set around our present day, we are taken through the story of a world changing several years in which a power is awoken in women, giving them the ability to very easily hurt and cause pain with their finger tips. The strength of the patriarchal world we are so familiar with is dismantled to make way for a world that would find it very hard to believe itself had ever been anything but a matriarchy. 

The character of Eve, and her rise to prophethood is a particularly powerful storyline, as is Tunde's with his safe place in society slowly becoming more precarious as he travels the world reporting on riots and protests. There are a lot subverted references to sexism, misogyny, and especially rape culture as this electric power women now hold becomes a tool to manipulate and overpower the male population. 

While in some places I found myself becoming really aware of this subversion and found the writing could be a little on the nose or heavy handed, overall I found the story compelling and clever enough for this not to bother me. The inclusion of archaeological artefacts and other records and the framing of a historian seeking approval for his work really worked for me. I really recommend you this book, even just so we can then talk about it.

"It doesn't matter that she shouldn't, that she never would.  
What matters is that she could, if she wanted.  
The power to hurt is a kind of wealth" 

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