Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Power by Naomi Alderman


When the first girl discovered her power, not much changed.  She didn't know how she was creating sparks in times of stress.  But she showed a friend and soon that friend could do it also.  As they showed more girls and it hit online applications, girls from all over the world could do it also.  Girls had a skein located near their collarbone and it supplied electricity to them.  So they could do much more than light cigarettes or show off to their friends.  It was the ultimate self defense tool and like most power, it became corrupting and soon the defense turned to offense.

Some quickly realized the advantages of the power.  Allie is a sixteen year old girl living in a foster household in Alabama.  When she uses the power to kill the man of the house as he is raping her, she starts a journey that eventually leaves her as Mother Eve, the main character in the religion that grows up around the power.  Roxy is a London girl from a gangster family who comes to the United States to escape the heat of her criminal activities.  Her power strength is legendary and she becomes the enforcer.  Margot is a politician and the financial partner of training camps for teenage girls to help them develop their power and become soldiers.  She even puts her own two girls in the camps.  Tatiana is rescued from a live of sex slavery in a Middle European country and soon gathers enough women around her to create a new country where she is President.  Tunde is a Nigerian man who recognizes that the power is the story of a lifetime and uses it to escape his country and become a world renowned journalist. 

But with great power comes great responsibility.  Can the women as they take their turn in power be sustaining rulers who empower all those around them?  Or will they develop power hungry personalities that use their talents to pay back men for the centuries that they have been on top?  As the months go by, the lines are drawn more and more clearly and the world inches towards a military disaster that will overshadow any seen before with gender fighting gender.  Can things be slowed or reversed?

This novel won the Bailey Woman's Prize for Fiction and was named a Top Ten Book by the New York Times.  It is a compelling look at gender politics and the inevitability of power corrupting those who hold it.  The power is not just a physical thing but the ability to redefine the world with an unclear decision about who will lay down the laws and what the world will look like after it is changed forever.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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