The Power by Naomi Alderman – When Girls Rule the World
19th April, 2017
The Power takes place in a dystopian world where young teenage girls can pass electric sparks through their body because of a newly awakened power. Moreover, they can pass this on to older women too. Women are ecstatic by the new found power and slowly take over the world. The Power is a shortlisted novel for The Bailey’s Prize 2017 which made me even more eager to pick up the read.
The story follows three key females – Roxy, Margot and Allie and a man named Tunde. Fourteen-year-old Roxy is the daughter of a London gangster. She witnesses her mother’s murder in their house. She is one of the first to discover the power (and the strongest) when her mother’s safety is threatened.
Margot is the mayor of a town in Wisconsin. When her daughter demonstrates her power, it awakens in Margot too. She keeps her power a secret and works her way up the ladder in meetings that make decisions about how to supervise the girls and their new found powers.
Allie is a sixteen-year-old, mixed-race, foster daughter of white Christians Mr and Mrs Montgomery-Taylor. She is often raped by Mr. Montgomery and one day she discovers her power. She kills him with the power, runs away and resurfaces as Mother Eve. She attracts a large following who believe in a world run by women.
Tunde travels the world documenting the political and social uprisings in different countries. The world is shaken up when women start a revolution – they take over political administration and instil new fears. New rules are formulated to ensure peace in some countries – men can’t drive, men need the signature of a female guardian to go out and they can’t hang out in large numbers. Soon the wraths of our present day world such as bogus religious cults, smuggling groups and fanatic groups against the new order spring up.
Alderman has done a brilliant job in building a realistic world of consequences. As much as the power empowers women at first, it also corrupts the system as the years roll by. We do not see a calm and peaceful world governed by women. Money, position and animal instincts still remain prominent. There are illustrations that show archaeological observations pointing out that women always had the power. It was interesting to see how the power is misused and how the weaker sex always crawls back in fear. There are some hilarious passages discussing why this new power gets awakened in women with theories ranging from mutation to excessive pollution!
I expected more of a scientific and historical interplay of writing in the novel after reading the blurb. But the book is mainly about what happens with the main characters and happenings in the world when the power is awakened in the girls. The historical aspect is limited to some illustrations of excavations that suggest the claims put forward by those who are trying to analyse the power. Also, I expected a faster pace and a suspenseful style of writing, especially since the premise is a frightening reality. If you have enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood, you would love this book. Coincidentally, The Handmaid’s Tale is not a favourite Atwood novel of mine either.
I expected a different world ruled by women – not a better one, mind you, just a different one. I would have liked to see how women do things differently, in a good or bad way. Perhaps this is what Alderman wanted to convey – that the world and its horrors will be the same, whether men or women are at the helm.
Final Verdict :
Overall, I enjoyed the book. But I have this nagging voice in my head that it would have been more fabulous if the pacing of the story was faster and if we had a different view point to the way the world would run when women take over the rules, instead of a direct gender reversal in the present day functioning of the world.
Trigger warning – The book has passages on rape.
Title : The Power
Author : Naomi Alderman
Publisher : Viking
Published : 2016
Language : English
Pages : 340
Rating : 3/5
Did you read any of the novels shortlisted for the Bailey’s Prize 2017?