All over the world women are discovering they have the power.
With a flick of the fingers they can inflict terrible pain – even death.
Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they’ve lost control.
The Day of the Girls has arrived – but where will it end?
THE POWER – MY THOUGHTS
As this book was chosen by my online book club as our January book, I am using The Power as my ‘a book picked for you by someone else’ for my 2018 Book Challenge. As the winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Ficton, I had quite high expectations for this one.
The Power is written as a book within a book. It starts with a submission of what is we assume is a manuscript of a historical account of what happened when women discovered they have a power never seen before. Told from the perspective of 4 central characters – Allie, Roxy, Margot and Tunde – The Power follows a countdown through a history which starts with the Day of the Girls and counts down to…. well, we’re not sure of that yet until the very end.
If I’m honest I don’t really know how I feel about this one. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was incredibly well written and manages central issues such as corruptibility of power, abuse, rebellion and social perceptions to name but a few very well. The Power is a book that is not afraid to tackle difficult topics head on and wonder out loud.
What would happen if women suddenly found themselves the stronger sex? Does power really corrupt? How would mean and society react to such a change? How would women reaction and would they let it change them? And what does this all say about human nature as a whole?
The Power does not shy away from any of these topics and to be honest, that I think is my issue with it. This would sit perfectly on an English Literature syllabus and would be a perfect match to an old university module I took on utopias and dystopias in literature. Rather than learning something organically when you read – which is always a wonderful bonus when it happens – it felt like it was trying to teach me something.
That of course is not a bad thing, as Alderman undoubtable has something to say and she makes some fantastic social observations and speculations while she does it. It certainly had me thinking about it afterwards and processing what I had read. However, I did not connect with the book at all. None of the characters for me were particularly relatable or even likeable. To me it read exactly how I guess Neil (the author within the book) intended: like a novelisation of history, with 2 dimensional characters who are created to best suit the events which they find themselves within. Roxy and Tunde felt the most real to me as characters, but even then – did I actually care about what happened to them? No, I don’t think so.
I personally didn’t find enough in the book to see me through the slow start. Which, added to the fact it was seeped in religious doctrine and political motives, unfortunately meant that The Power wasn’t really one for me. However, I would have loved debating the themes and interesting novel structure in one of my old university seminars, and I have no doubt that this one will find its way onto a few academic reading lists in the next year or so.
The Power is currently available on Amazon (affiliate link) for £5.99.