The Power

The Power

A Novel

eBook - 2017
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She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and let's 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, 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: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2017
Edition: First North American edition
ISBN: 9780316558372
0316558370
9780316547659
0316547654
0316547611
9780316547611
Branch Call Number: DOWNLOADABLE eBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
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2
241227313K
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.

s
sloanelCPL
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."

d
DorisWaggoner
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.

l
lmeyrueix4
Mar 24, 2019

This was a timely book to have happened upon during this era of #MeToo. Definitely a one of a kind book. I have never read this sort of science-fiction before and it was strangely liberating and incredibly insightful.

It is amazing how it takes such a simple exercise of role reversal to make you rethink some of the things you’ve long accepted as “normal”.

There is one main character in the book that really shows you the progression of change that is occurring in this fictitious society. He goes from living in a world where he ALWAYS feels safe, to living in a world where he is likely to get violently attacked at any moment (and does). Having that sort of mental exercise put into context the violence that we, as women, have to face on a nearly daily basis. And if we are not directly facing it, we are living in constant fear of violence against us.

The UN recently released a report titled a Global Study on Homicide: Gender-related killing of women and girls. One of the key findings of this study was that of the 87,000 intentionally killed women in 2017, more than half of them (58%) were killed by intimate partners or family members. This study made headlines because it was stated that in the four regions of the world with the highest share of murdered women, the home was the most likely place for a woman to be killed. To put this into context, women and girls account for only 20% of total homicides. And only one out of every five homicides at the global level is perpetuated by an intimate partner or family member. However, women and girls make up the vast majority of those deaths (64%).

The Power gives the reader the opportunity to imagine what the world would look like if women no longer had to fear for their lives. If women no longer had to fear for their lives in their own homes. If women no longer had to fear their significant other or their family members.

There is this particularly powerful scene in the book where a governmental official realizes during a meeting that she is the most powerful person in the room. That if she wanted to she could do anything she wanted to anyone she wanted. The internal discussion she has with herself is incredible because she thinks to herself, “Is this how men have always felt?”.

All in all, a great read and highly recommended.

Additionally, I highly recommend checking out these two French films that do a similar mind experiment: Oppressed Majority and I Am Not An Easy Man.

a
airyen
Mar 24, 2019

The Power is a speculative fiction story that starts in the world of today. But what if one day, all women woke up with a power no one else had, one that put a debilitating physical advantage over men literally in the hands of women? As the power spreads from younger women to older ones, from backyard tricks to geopolitical takeovers, from fighting back to fighting each other, The Power explores this new world from a multitude of perspectives. There’s a mixed-race orphan girl who discovers she has the finest degree of control she’s seen; a street-smart girl who uses the power to kill her mother’s murderers; a New England mayor who’s struggling to keep the tiniest bits of political power to do good in the world; a male photojournalist who becomes a household name documenting women’s revolutions; and a historian writing from centuries later with a perspective completely different from historians today.

The best part of this book was how complex and jarring it was. Every character has a unique perspective, and at times I was rooting both for and against each one of them. The power corrupts people in ways I never expected, but which made sense in the course of the novel. And just when I thought I had defined each character in my mind, the things that defined them could be ripped away and I’d have to reimagine them again. It was an experience to read.

Another compelling thing about The Power was the “historical” perspective. The book starts with a series of letters between two authors, one a man, about the “history” of the era described in The Power that imagines criticism from a matriarchal society’s perspective. Interspersed through the chapters are drawings of “archeological finds” that reflect this. For example, one of the figures is an iPad welded onto a Sumerian statue (but not described as an iPad, of course). And finally, the entire story of The Power is presented as a historical fiction novel written by one of the authors before. It definitely makes you reorient the entire narrative in your mind and is a real “trippy” mental exercise to go through.

k
kimmegirl
Mar 06, 2019

Started it, couldn't get past the first few pages...

w
Warbler3
Mar 03, 2019

Looked it over, decided it's not my cuppa tea.

b
Blackgirlreading
Feb 27, 2019

I really enjoyed listening to this book. The narrator read it so well, she was able change her voice with each character so well. I did think it could have ended a bit sooner than it did, kinda just started to drag towards the end with information that seemed like they just wanted to extend the book. Still a good book and would recommend.

k
kmobuckeye
Feb 11, 2019

It got a little violent at times, but I do like the turn

z
zenjay
Feb 04, 2019

A very original premise which I liked a great deal. The structure of the book is also striking (an interesting take on a countdown to a global event rather than a focus on the aftermath). However I didn't always engage with all of the characters and it was a stretch to understand how they all fitted convincingly nto the overall story arc. Nevertheless, an enjoyable and challenging perspective on gender roles.

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