The Power – Naomi Alderman

This is a dystopian account of what might happen if women had the power and here they do literally have just that. The ability to first manifest and then control massive outbursts of electrical power from a skein of muscle across the shoulder blades starts with the young and spreads. Some have a bit more and some a bit less but the majority come to be able to administer a sizeable jolt. Finding out what to do with it, using it for fun, for protection and then for political gain and systemic dominance is the drift of the book. Eventually things go a bit awry, well seriously. Also, there’s a fair bit of abuse of males along the way, maybe as a rebalancing of the system.

There’s lots to really like about this book. Most of the time it rattles along although maybe the time frame is a bit spread. There’s some good description and it treads the delicate line between telling a story and making the dystopian, or possibly utopian, point.

I didn’t like the way religion popped in. Organised religion is so evidently male focused that maybe the writer couldn’t bear not to reverse the scenario but I’d like to think that a woman’s world could stuff it – not replicate it. A slight current of Margaret Atwood here if you’ll excuse the pun.

There’s also an organised crime story thread that didn’t hang true for me. But that’s a minor gripe. Overall this was a good read and if it makes a few men think about their attitudes to women then even better.


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