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The Power Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Alderman was selected for Granta's once-a-decade list of Best of Young British Novelists and was chosen by Margaret Atwood as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She is the cocreator and lead writer of the bestselling smartphone audio adventure app Zombies, Run! She contributes regularly to The Guardian and presents Science Stories on BBC Radio 4. She lives in London.
"Alderman has written our era's Handmaid's Tale, and, like Margaret Atwood's classic, The Power is one of those essential feminist works that terrifies and illuminates, enrages and encourages....This book sparks with such electric satire that you should read it wearing insulated gloves."―Ron Charles, Washington Post
"Alderman's writing is beautiful, and her intelligence seems almost limitless. She also has a pitch-dark sense of humor that she wields perfectly."―Michael Schaub, NPR
"An instant classic of speculative fiction... Smart, readable and joyously achieved."
―Justine Jordan, Guardian --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- Publication Date : October 10, 2017
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 402 pages
- File Size : 4328 KB
- Publisher : Little, Brown and Company (October 10, 2017)
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B01N0Z1EY0
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #29,951 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It starts out interesting enough, but by about halfway through, I was like, "OK I GET IT ALREADY." Overall it was pretty meh, except for multiple torture scenes that seemed to me to be excessive, graphic, and gratuitous. That seemed like authorial grandstanding, and I could have done without it.
To summarize, I thought this was a mediocre read and can't believe it got the kind of attention and positive reviews it generated in high-profile media (e.g. NY Times, etc.) upon its release. Interesting idea, crappy execution. My recommendation: Life is short. There are far better books to spend your time and money on.
The novel is framed as the manuscript of a (subservient) male academic called Neil, writing five thousand years in the future, which he has sent to ‘Naomi’ for review. He is trying to make sense of events that occurred in our present.
The story begins when adolescent girls suddenly develop the power to deliver electric shocks. They can also awaken a latent power in some adult women. This causes dramatic social change, told through the stories of three female and one male characters. Roxy is a teenager from an East End gangster family, Ally, an American of around the same age who is running from abusive carers, Margot an ambitious US governor and single parent and Tunde, an ambitious freelance journalist from Nigeria.
What’s interesting is that not all girls and women have the same power. Some have greater electrical capacity, and some are better able to control and use what they have. But there are also those who have the vision to see how the world is changing and how to use existing structures to exploit it. Immediately power begins to shift.
Women in countries from Saudi Arabia to India rise up. The three female characters all see opportunities – Roxy in organised crime, Ally by starting the religious cult of Mother Eve and Margot by organising a public-private paramilitary organisation. Tunde travels the world documenting change and finds both allies and danger among the women he meets.
The first part of the book also takes a nuanced approach to what the power might mean. At times the power is turned against women. They are barred from certain posts if they have it. There is talk of restrictions and cures. Teenage girls turn on each other. But as their power becomes more entrenched and men begin to encounter the limitations that some women do now (like not leaving home without the permission of a female guardian) it highlights to the reader how wrong and bizarre they are.
As the novel went on though, I found my attention wandering and I struggled to finish it. There are a couple of reasons. The plot loses its way and the ending is a bit of a cop-out. There’s a certain amount of exposition. But the key problem is in the narration.
When I think of the dystopian novels I’ve enjoyed the most (eg 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale) they show the workings of a society through the perspective of one character. You gain a rich, immersive sense of the fear and the humiliation and the tedium they face every day. Here we have a kind of helicopter view. The four main characters and those around them just aren’t that interesting as individuals and their stories overlap in ways that aren’t always convincing.
They are all in positions of power and influence in some way, perhaps because those are the stories that would survive. They are all single at the start of the book so we don’t see how the changes affect long-term relationships and the institutions of marriage and the family (key areas for feminists). We also don’t have much sense of what happens to women and girls who have the physical power but no social or economic capital to exploit.
The book ends with Naomi commenting on Neil’s manuscript, in particular being mildly dismissive of his assertion that men once dominated society, because there is little evidence of it in the historical record. Neil insists that is because those who have power decide what is history. This shows both the strength and weakness of the book to me. It’s a nice reversal and makes its point, but the point is quite an obvious one.
I received a copy of The Power from the publisher via Netgalley.
A longer version of this review first appeared on my blog https://katevane.wordpress.com/
Top reviews from other countries
The booked felt like it dragged on unnecessarily and I felt that any moral or learning was completely missed. Basically women are just as awful and power hungry as men, so the world’s f****d either way.