In The Power we see a world exactly like our own, however teenage girls have started to develop an immense physical power – through their hands they can inflict torturous pain and even death on anyone they touch. This new power in the hands of many girls and women has devastating consequences and we see the changing world through four different perspectives: an abused and fostered teenage girl, a female American politician, a rich Nigerian teenage boy and a London girl with a crime boss father. I was instantly interested in this novel when I saw it was shortlisted for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and I can definitely see why it ultimately won. Not only is this a gripping, exciting story it also extremely daring. Alderman forces you to face current issues and re-think everything; it is smart and disturbing.
This novel is undeniably a fast-paced, gripping and exciting read; it was thrilling. I loved the premise of young women gaining a destructible power, and was keen to see how all the different individual characters and nations as wholes dealt with the change. I especially enjoyed the focus on teenage girls and the way in which they reacted to their new power; at the age in which young women are usually confused about their identity and society is particularly oppressive and demanding of them, they are suddenly empowered and ultimately emancipated. I also really appreciated that the novel looked at different countries around the world and their reactions. This novel really came alive through including details such as snippets of documents that speculated about where the new power was coming from, and also its story within a story structure; the main novel has actually been written by a fictional man from the future, who wants to tell the ‘real story’ about how the power came about.
I really enjoyed the four main perspectives that this novel was told from. It was fascinating to see the way in which the power changed the women, especially Margot, the local American politician; all at once her duties to her country, her family and also herself were heightened. The male voice of the Nigerian journalist was also a particular highlight for me; the way he slowly learned to fear women and dramatically felt his power and influence slip was intriguing to watch. Furthermore, the way he was ultimately subjected to the many violations that women are often made to endure today was particularly hard hitting and terrifying. While I did really enjoy the many perspectives in this novel, and felt this was extremely important in order to fully explore its central issues, I did feel like I wanted to get to know each of the characters better and that the novel could have benefited from some more fleshing out and length.
I thought the issues that this novel explored were fascinating and massively important. In subverting the patriarchy the novel is unashamedly reflective of many of the issues in today’s society, and highlights everything that is taken for granted about gender. Inevitably, the women in this dystopian world abuse their newfound power, and the shock that their violence and selfishness causes really makes the reader think about many contemporary issues.
I would highly recommend people to read this book. It is an extremely clever and stark reflection of pre-existing issues in a completely dystopian world, while on the surface it is a purely thrilling and engaging read. While I did feel there were some areas the novel could have been improved further I really enjoyed the experience of reading such a fun novel, and really enjoyed the issues it raised; anyone who reads this should be able to take something away from it.