The Power

The Power

Book - 2016
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She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She'd put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead. Suddenly, teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of this novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light. What if the power to hurt were in women's hands?
Publisher: London :, Viking,, 2016.
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 340 pages :,illustrations ;,21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Davies, Marsh


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From Library Staff

What if we lived in a world in which men lived in fear of the physical power of women? In Alderman's vision of such an alternate world, young women develop 'skeins' in their collarbones with the power to conduct electricity, which can be channeled through their palms with the potential to infli... Read More »

Donna's pick: What if girls developed the power to send out electric currents? In this future, they do and we follow a selection of characters into this new world where it's the men who have to be afraid. Margaret Atwood wrote words of praise on the cover, and also gave it a shoutout when she spo... Read More »

Donna's pick: Margaret Atwood highly recommended this title on Kim Hill, which is a good enough reason to take it for a whirl.

From the critics

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Sep 13, 2020

Good read. Can definitely see the influence of Margaret Atwood. An interesting look at what a reversal of gender norms could look like.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin May 06, 2020

What if the gender power dynamic in the world was inverted? Would existing gender stereotypes inform such a transition, or is power itself a corrupting influence? This one will stick with me for a while.

Dec 28, 2019

Futuristic female empowerment

Nov 18, 2019

What if women discovered a power to make them stronger than men? And this power gave them dominion over them ? Would women, the gentler, kinder and more compassionate use this for good? Maybe not. Maybe they would learn cruelty and mask it under revenge for years of subservience. A thought provoking story of what happens when absolute power corrupts absolutely

Nov 01, 2019

2.5 stars, mainly for the concept itself--which is quite intriguing. Girls and women discover they have a latent "power" (hint: it's physical, not psychological) that they then exploit. No, "Power" is NOT a feminist screed, but a book about gender. Quite a different thing.

Some of the characters are terrific, too. Tunde, Roxy and Mother Eve. The personalities and their turmoil is also, at times, hilarious. However...

Author Naomi Alderman is far too ambitious or "clever" for her own--and her book's--good (and the reader's enjoyment.) While not a "screed," Power's add-on conceit at the very beginning and at the very end--no spoilers here--serves as a bit of a polemic that we--and the book--certainly could do without.

Far worse, however, is the anti-climactic ending. Yes, we all know that life--and womenkind's society-altering phenomenon--will go on to impact these characters. Fine. But please, wrap up the story in a really dramatic way. Don't let it...just...dwindle...away. The story just kinda coasts to a stop.

So, instead of "wow, I'm sure glad I read that" feeling, the reader is left with not much feeling at all--except disappointment.

Too bad.

SCL_Justin Sep 20, 2019

I loved this book and its reflection on the ways patriarchy works by flipping it around. It was visceral at times and never really let up on the pressure it put on the reader.

Jul 06, 2019

A little difficult to review this one. I kinda loved it; I certainly couldn't put it down, and started and finished in two days. The premise is that this is a "history" of ancient times (5 thousand years ago AKA the present day) when civilization was inexplicably ruled by men, before an evolutionary mutation gave all women the power to electrocute at will. The tone was all over the place and the multiple POVs were sometimes successful, sometimes not. But I was very engaged throughout the entire over-the-top roller coaster ride. However, I think therein lies the problem; my impression is that I was supposed to be taking this all very seriously rather than enjoying something I found a bit of a hoot. Not that there weren't parts that had me shudder or get disgusted or roll my eyes at the revisionist take of the beleaguered men ("women NEVER had it this bad..."). So, bottom line: I had a blast but I think that might mean there's something wrong with me.

May 21, 2019

The concept is what initially interested me and the fact my book club was reading it for the month. However I found a lack of character development persistent in this book. In addition with various character stories in each chapter I started to lose interest and found it hard to keep each person’s story straight. Also the pacing was too slow for me. I didn’t finish it. Which is surprisingly odd for me as I usually will finish and was in the middle of the book. I even had time to finish as I took it with me on a trip. Others in my book club enjoyed it.

May 10, 2019

The Power by Naomi Alderman (AlderMAN) is a powerful and important speculative fiction that looks at the question, what if there was a reversal of which gender has greater physical power? Because women develop, or re-learn, that they have the potential of electrical power to protect themselves and harm others, the male dominance applecart is upset. I appreciated that this story was told from the POVs of different women so that different geographical and cultural contexts were explored. I appreciated the very Margaret-Atwood feeling of the novel. I would like to have looked at this in a group discussion like a classroom or a bookclub, to elaborate the various layers and nuances of the story. But I think many in my bookclub would find the book to have too much violence. There is a great deal of violence but to me it seemed essential to the narrative -- the cultural/political power reversal wasn't going to happen just because women now had the potential to overpower. But ultimately I felt discouraged that the author's answer to what-if is that there would be a simple and essentially symmetrical reversal. In the acknowledgments, the author noted that two of the illustrations, "Serving Boy" and "Priestess Queen," are based on real archeological finds. She says: "... despite the lack of context, the archeologists who unearthed them called (the first one) "Priest King" and (the second one) "Dancing Girl. ... Sometimes I think the whole of this book could be communicated with just this set of facts and illustrations."

Apr 28, 2019

In a new book club, this was the 2nd book we read. I appeared to have been the only woman to have finished it. Not that I loved it, but I've read sci fi before, and can wrap my mind around the general concept. One reaction I had was that this came startlingly close to the #metoo movement that followed a year or so after this book was published. All of a sudden powerful women are, in real life, accusing powerful men of sexual assault, and the women are prevailing. In "The Power," we find a reversal of power between men and women, where girls generally in their mid teens learn, first giggling, that they can toss electrical energy from one palm to the other. From there, their power escalates to "The Cataclysm," where WW III is about to break out because of the Power shift between the genders. All this is framed by letters between a man and a woman, whose names I didn't catch as anagrams until reading one of the reviews. The writing is stunningly beautiful, experimental, as the male author inserts paleoarcheological diagrams, etc. Many of the characters are cardboard, unfortunately, but the action definitely is not.

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