Naomi Alderman (2016) The Power.

the power.jpg

I bought this book when it first came out. I’ve picked it up and put it down a few times. It’s got an impressive list of broadsheets such as The Guardian who proclaim it ‘a big, page turning, globe-trotting thriller’ and a leading author of a dystopian future, A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood,  calling it ‘Electrifying’. I read most of the 339 pages, missing out chapters, here and there, and scooting to the end, which I knew was going to be some kind of Armageddon.

The idea is a simple one. Rise and fall.  The world is turned upside down. We are no longer talking about his-story, but her-story. Women, all over the world, develop the power to discharge electricity from a skein in their body. Men can no longer physically dominate women in the same way that they couldn’t dominate a cobra. This physical inversion of women dominating men becomes much more pronounced and is translated into the social and economic realms. Men no longer run the world. Women do. End of… beginning of. A rewriting of history and religion in which patriarchy become matriarchy and men’s contribution to progress and civilisation is distorted, overwritten and erased. A new world order.

The Power of inversion is a grand idea.

The shape of power is always the shape of a tree…This is the shape of rivers leading to the ocean…It is the shape that lighting forms when it strikes from heaven…The same shape grows within us, our inward trees of nerves and blood vessels…Power travels in the same manner between people…

As it is written, ‘She cuppeth the lightening in her hand. She commandeth it to strike.’

from the book of Eve 13-17

The quasi-religious book is the new bible for the new age. Women can throw lightning- bolts from their hands, inflict pain and death. The roots of the evolutionary tree is not gender neutral.  Nine out of ten terminations are male because female children are wanted and male children an unnecessary expense.

But The Power fails for me, in fact, becomes boring, because the characters never get beyond the one dimensional. We begin with Roxy, head soldier of Allie, the prototype Eve. Roxy’s dad is a cardboard gangster and I was about 100 pages in before I realised Roxy was English. She was visiting the new women’s messiah in a convent somewhere in America. Allie’s got the measure of Roxy in a way no one else manages. She morphs into Eve. Cor blimey. Allie hears voices. I found that quite interesting.  Then there’s Margot, the second of the triumvirate of female leaders. She’s a politician. She speaks with a forked tongue. Ho-hum.

Lots of folk like this book. It was a New York Times bestseller. Read on.

 

 

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