If women were in power (and the author imagines, literally, that women possess an electromagnetic charge they can use to injure and kill) would they create a more just and equitable society? Or, would it be just as corrupt and horrific? This is the premise of The Power, a smart, fast-paced book told through intertwining points of view. The Power is thought-provoking and suspenseful, but not necessarily something you'd want to read before bed!
I swear, I should probably just the first few sentences of my synopsis on loop... This is yet another one that I don't remember where I got the recommendation from, but have been on the wait list at the library for a long while now. I didn't know anything about the book going in and I guess I didn't know what to expect. After seeing some of the reviews, I thought the comment that mentioned it was a mix of Hunger Games and Handmaid's Tale was pretty spot on. The premise of the novel is that females develop the power to electrocute people and subsequently seize control of society. The idea of a society in which one sex is systematically oppressed through the threat (or use) of physical and sexual violence seems outrageous, until you realize that is the society we live in on the daily. I really liked how all of the characters' stories eventually intertwined. At the beginning of the book I felt emboldened for being a woman and by the end I was scratching my head and wondering if in fact women would let power corrupt them just as much as men have. I know this is just a fictional story, but overall it was powerful and thought-provoking. There were a few parts that left me confused (who the end package was mailed to, why the author kept the letters at the beginning and end of the story, etc), but overall I really enjoyed it. I would give it a 9 out of 10.
I see why comparisons were made to Margaret Atwood's dystopian fiction, because it's our society turned upside down and inside out. It does make you wonder if the women would succumb to the draws of power as described because that's what the powerful do, or that's what powerful men have done.....At any rate, it's very well done and thought provoking, especially the front and end frames around the story, hence why it made various lists for top books of 2017.
I have to agree with all the reviewers who found major strengths, but felt the book ultimately came up wanting,
I am of two minds about this book.
First, I found it very difficult to sit down and read. I found myself getting up to do some chore every few pages. Since being engrossed in a book is usually my litmus test of its quality, I can't say I cared much for it. I had to "assign myself" 50 pages to read per day, just to slog through it.
Second, there is some great writing craft here and some interesting concepts. The way author Ackerman shows us the progression of her characters as they incorporate their power into public life is deft and chilling. It takes virtually no time at all for Roxy to transform into a capo de capi gangster mastermind, for Allie to become a televangelist, tailoring her "cures" and messages to the revenue they can bring, or for Margot to embrace the role of corrupt, cutthroat politician, willing to steamroller everything in her path.
Soon men began to act as women had - fearful of assault and rape, anxious to please the women in their world and loathe to go against them.
All of that is handles seamlessly. You see the progression through the endless temptations that measurable power can provide. You can see how easy it is slip over the line.
I agree with uncommonreader’s comment below. I will add that the most striking part of the book is the fictional letters between the female editor “Naomi” and the book's male author, written in the female dominated society of the future. The gender reversal in their conversation - the condescending tone, stereotyping, historical context of roles - is a mirror of our society. It’s quite jarring.
This speculative fiction won the Bailey's prize. While it is quite readable, in the end, what did it have to say? That people exercise power because they can? I did not think that Alderman knew how to end the story.
The premise was good as is the writing. I could not bring myself to care about the characters.
The Power has an intriguing concept and I could not put it down for the first half. However, the ending felt unfinished and underwhelming. It was good but it definitely had potential to be enthrallingly excellent, and did not quite live up to those expectations. Otherwise, seeing the various effects of the societal power shift from patriarchy to matriarchy was fascinating.
I guess it just came out okay for me. Maybe it was just a weird time in my life. A transition period where my mind was flying 1000 different ways at once with ageing friends facing chronic illness, biotoxins, chronic pain or autoimmune disorders. Or maybe, unlike all my like my break-up excuses, it really wasn't me but the fault of the book (ie girlfriend) and I'm just trying to soften the blow on the author because I don't want to hurt their feelings and certainly don't want, as a constant reader them to ever, ever, ever stop writing. I don't know. It's a tough call but Obama liked this one I'll take his word since he and I were about the only two people I knew who didn't believe Colin Powell's fear tactics regarding Iraq on the weaponized media that included NBC, Fox News and NPR with the nightly sound bite, "What if the next terror attack is a mushroom cloud in New York City?" So I'm going to say it really was me baby, and this book was awesome.
This book is fantastic. Intense, well-plotted, with deft use of a handful of devices that I recognized as devices but that worked to keep me on the edge of my seat nevertheless.
I tend to be more optimistic than Alderman in my evaluation of human nature. I agree that power corrupts, but I think it would take a lot longer, and I think the ways in which society is shaped might be diverted in unexpected and interesting ways that Alderman does not, in the end pursue. This isn't really a critique of the book, though; I would have written a different one but so what? This one is good.
I really like the framing device, the future book manuscript complete with notes from an editor who does not recognize the bias in the manuscript feedback--I suspect Alderman may have copied almost verbatim from notes she as a woman writer has received from men in the publishing industry. This is actually a great microcosm of the book for me, actually: there is a kind of visceral satisfaction in seeing the gendered power structure eviscerated in this way, and yet I still wished there was some sign of what ELSE humans could do, abusive or not, other than wield power over each other.
This was a great concept for a book, but at times it felt like the book was a little too loose. There could have been one less main character and the plot would have felt more closely knitted. The time frame also seemed a little too short. I can see some of this happening in third world countries, but the scale of what happened would have taken a much longer period of time.
Wow. This book was the most intense thing I have read in a long time. It was ghoulishly fun to see power dynamics shifted and a timely reminder that any power imbalance leads to disparity. This book is a page turner with a lot to unpack. Reads like an inverse of The Handmaid's Tale with many of the same themes and takeaways. Must read in 2018!
I usually don't read dystopian novels. I just don't like the genre. But this title began with a hopeful premise. If women had the power to free themselves literally and figuratively. I wanted this story to be more uplifting. Sadly, women with power were no better and had no vision other than revenge and hate. The world falls into chaos. And the spiritual voice that comes to Mother Eve has no message other than the world needs to be destroyed in order to make way for a "higher" way of being. And then the spiritual voice is done and disappears. What? This book could have been so much more.
A compelling thriller about women gaining superpowers. But when I finished this book I felt a little disappointed, to me it didn't have much to say about gender. But then I realized: it has a lot of interesting things to say about power. Which she told us in the title.
Would things be different if women were physically more powerful than men? This exploration of how things might be is eye-opening! Rightly chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2017 by the New York Times, NPR, and others.
This one reminds me of a flip side of Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale." I found it riveting.
The premise of this book is interesting enough, but I felt that it was pretty one-dimensional in the way it approaches sexism and gender issues. I was especially not keen on the presentation of gender as a rigid, unchanging binary.
I really enjoyed this book with its total swap of the male female universe and the exploration of power. Is the tendency toward violence inherent, or just because someone can? Very thought provoking. I will look for more from this author.
Got halfway through and decided it wasn't worth the time it would take to finish it. Predictable dystopian scenario's, nothing really interesting and the switching from one person's viewpoint to another was annoying.
As mentioned previously, this book contains deeply disturbing scenes of sexual violence. It left me deeply unsettled when I finished it late last night. My mind was too agitated to fall asleep.
Knowing that the author was part of a mentorship program with Margaret Atwood explains the confusing framing device between the fictional author and a reviewer. It reminded me of the postscript in a Handmaid's Tale.
Overall, I was disappointed with the missed opportunities as pointed out by previous reviewers. Perhaps a few more drafts were in order before publishing.
**SPOILER ALERT** I wanted to love this book, but it disappointed me deeply. The writing is engaging, the characters are interesting, the switcheroo premise is interesting & believably executed, the development kept me turning pages and was often jaw-dropping. But... and this is a BIG but... this book wanted to be so radical, and it wants to pretend that it IS so radical, and it's not.
This author missed such an amazing opportunity to examine the nature of power itself, rather than just switching gender roles (we've seen that in so many B movies already!). Once again, 'POWER' = the power to hurt, to coerce, to destroy. I kept waiting for the author to make a radical move and show us that POWER is also (I'd argue more fundamentally) the power to create, love, and heal. What if giving women this new gift had enabled at least SOME of them to coalesce in joyful solidarity? What if the twist had given us a real show-down between two radically different conceptions of power? I kept waiting for the author to show me something new. All I got was 'power corrupts women as quickly as it does men.' A valid hypothesis, but nothing as fresh or radical as the blurbs led me to hope.
This book kind of shook me to my core. With a narrative that examines and flips the power dynamic of men and women this book felt like an incredibly timely read right now. Naomi Alderman took the idea of a women-lead society to a place I haven't seen before.