Well, first things first y’all: my husband passed his PhD defense yesterday!!! Basically, all that’s left is his defense which is mostly a formality. He’s working on getting his interview in New Mexico scheduled, then we’ll start visiting and house hunting. We are on actual cloud nine right now. This program has been so immensely stressful and it’s incredible to be on the other side of the last major hurdle he has to jump before he gets his degree. OK, well enough fan girling over my husband and onto today’s read! Our review is for The Power by Naomi Alderman!
Across the globe, young girls are waking up with unimaginable, unexplained power. With the touch of their hand they’re able to inflict searing, indescribable pain to the point of even death. As girls the world over are discovering this newly awakened power, that has been dormant in women for as long as we can remember, they also discover they’re able to “awaken” the power in the older generations as well. The implications of this shift to the power structure of the world are numerous. Governments, the media, society itself begins changing rapidly as women begin to exercise this power more and more. No longer are women afraid to walk the streets alone, but men must now be looking over their shoulder and preparing instead.
As power shifts from men to women, it begs the big questions: What if women were in power? What if women were the “stronger” and more “powerful” sex? How would this affect our world and what would it look like if women were thrust into running the world? The Power is told from alternating POVs between numerous young girls coming into their new found skills, and a young man who captures some of the first glimpses of women the world over exercising this change in gender dynamics.
The shape of power is always the same: it is infinite, it is complex, it is forever branching.
Well, I put a lot of hype into this book in my head and so maybe my disappointment is my own fault. Regardless of how much I built this novel up, it really let me down. For me, it’s always the worst when I feel like a story has so much promise and then falls flat with it’s lofty goals. The Power was such a unique take on a old tale that I felt like it was bound to knock me off my chair, ask important questions and challenge my view of the world. What started out incredibly strong, interesting and full of unique vision ultimately fell flat and completely missed the mark for me personally.
I’ve considered myself a pretty staunch feminist for the majority of my life. Since “feminist” is sometimes considered a bad word, I’ve also spent a good deal of time explaining what feminism actually is and what it is not. What it is not, is men hating or wanting women to treat men the way men have treated women – which is oppression. There’s a great Chinese proverb that says “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle” and that’s something that has always spoken to me. Women do not want a world in which they can treat men the way they’ve been treated, it’s simply about fighting the patriarchy to have equal representation. The Power really jumbled that message for me.
It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.
Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a chance that women could come into some kind of latent power and then become violent and oppressive. That’s definitely a possibility, but it’s reductive to me. Women have been fighting for equal rights, equal representation, equal pay for so long that I would’ve preferred to see women liberated instead of high on power. I also found it unrealistic that women across the globe, who have faced a history of oppression and violence would immediately turn to ripping off symbols of their belief systems and mob the streets. As more and more girls come into this power, society completely collapses into a sea of gratuitous violence and still, a lot of sexism. Yes, women are the one’s in power but how is it that as feminists we can spend all this time talking about wanting to see a world free of sexism while simultaneously plugging books that promote sexism? This didn’t feel like a “win” for women to me.
Past the larger, more theological issues I had with this book I also found that it really dragged for me after about the first quarter. The set up and the premise were incredibly interesting, I was originally semi-invested in some of the characters and how their stories would develop. However, as time went on I found a lot of the POVs to be redundant and best and a snore-fest at worst. There was too much time spent developing the violence and getting back at men, and not enough time developing the characters and their place within the overall story.
Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn’t. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it’s hollow. Look under the shells: it’s not there.
As I’ve mentioned before I don’t normally post quotes that I specifically didn’t like, but what is this even saying? How does this even relate to the story? A lot of this read like it was trying incredibly hard to be deep and philosophical and it totally missed the mark for me. In the end, this book was not for me. It wasn’t a total failure or loss because the premise was absolutely unique and very interesting. I continued to read on in hopes that things would improve but I was ultimately let down.
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Honestly, I’m not really suggesting this to anyone. But fans of YA dystopian novels, anyone looking for a unique take on gender roles in fiction.
Music Mood: Dance Upon Your Grave by The Brothers Comatose
Have you read The Power? If so, what did you think? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!