Ever since I put this one down last night, my head has been swimming with conflicting feelings. How can I possibly advocate for a novel, when I didn’t enjoy reading it? And if I truly did not enjoy it, then why is the corner of every second page turned down, marking a significant thought and inviting me to revisit it?
Imagine this: by a twist in nature, young girls around the world discover they have the ability to inflict pain and death on others through electrical stimuli in their hands; they transfer their power to women in older generations and very quickly, Alderman brings us into an alternate reality wherein the word ‘woman’ is synonymous with power, women begin to take over authoritative roles customarily held by males, and men are the ones afraid to walk alone at night.
Alderman explores power dynamics over a ten-year time period through three female points of view and one male POV, each character located on a different continent and confronted with a diverse set of circumstances stemming from the sphere they participate in; religious, political, family, and social.
After the exhilarating initial discovery of this new-found power that storied young girls fighting back against sexual abuse and other gender-based injustices, Alderman fixates the narrative on the negatives that come with power, challenging social constructions of gender and invalidating the commonly held belief that women are, by nature, more gentle and nurturing than men. She shines a spotlight on rape culture, marginalization, and oppression on every page. The overarching message I received from this novel is that power will inevitably corrupt, regardless of who has it.
Not being an avid dystopia/fantasy lover (not even a liker), I had a tough time getting past the electrical currents coming out of people’s hands… but being keen on anything and everything female empowerment, I appreciated the greater symbolic implication that those jolts represented and the way they fried the patriarchy.
I desperately wanted to love this one; Alderman’s lesson about gender equality is perceptive and complex… The problem, for me, was with the way it was written; I found the book didn’t seem to follow a storyline. It is almost as if Alderman thought up this brilliant concept and spent 300+ pages exploring it, rather than actually telling a story. I found many chapters dragged on and some were even painful to get through. If I didn’t love the fundamental message from The Power so much, this one would’ve been rated significantly lower. The concept was there; the execution was not.
Reviewed by: Christy (Contributor)
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