Ooh, what’s this? My very first review on Don’t Bend the Spine! How exciting. For my first book review (and as an entry for the #britishbookschallenge18), I have chosen The Power by Naomi Alderman.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Publication Date: 27th October 2016
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Format: Kindle, 339 pages
Synopsis: All over the world, women are discovering they have the power.
With a flick of the fingers, they can inflict terrible pain – even death.
Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they’ve lost control.
The Day of the Girls has arrived – but where will it end?
If you needed proof of how often I buy books and do not read them until months later, The Power is a shining example; I bought my copy on 2nd March 2017. Winner of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, praised by Margaret Atwood and awarded 5* by many of my GoodReads friends, it was finally time for me to read it.
The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree.
The Power imagines a world in where women have the power. The power to hurt. The power to take revenge. The power to change the world. With their hands, they can produce electricity and inflict physical pain. Soon, an uprising begins and women are leading armies and creating religions. Men live in fear. With women in charge, what does the world look like?
Roxy feels it start to build in her then, though she doesn’t know what it is. It’s just a feeling at her fingers’ ends, a prickle in her thumbs.
I have to say, The Power was not what I was expecting it to be. With its exciting premise, this book should have taken me a matter of hours to read. In fact, it took days, nearly weeks. It’s not a long book, it’s just I had no motivation or even any particular desire to read it. I couldn’t wait for it to end, and not because I wanted to know what happened; I wanted to finish it and read something else.
The Power is told from a variety of perspectives. We have Tunde, a Nigerian man who travels around the world documenting the uprising. Roxy, from England, is out for revenge after witnessing the death of her mum at the hands of gangsters. Allie, a mixed-race girl from America, escapes an abusive foster home and soon discovers how powerful she really is. Margot, an older woman from the USA, uses the power for her own political gain whilst her daughter Jocelyn finds herself struggling to manage her fluctuating power.
Despite having a mixture of perspectives, each of the characters in The Power felt flat and one-dimensional. Their stories had potential, but they were not executed well. Roxy‘s story of revenge was boring and repetitive, with no resolution. I had no sympathy for Tunde, and I could not have cared less about him. Allie‘s story of religion took an odd turn, and at times felt like a chore to read. Margot‘s story lost focus and Jocelyn‘s story ended abruptly. On reflection, I did not have a favourite character that I rooted for, which is rather telling considering I had five characters to choose from.
For a novel like this, I expected a high calibre of writing and storytelling. However, I felt the pacing was off, with scenes either being too slow or being too fast. Some of the words used in the story, particularly the dialogue scenes, made me feel uncomfortable. I also found it odd how the book begins with a submission letter from an author called Neil, making reference to him writing the story as a historical fiction novel. Between the chapters, there are pictures of torture weapons and paintings, which I interpreted as being from the time that takes place the aftermath of the events in the story, but events prior to the submission letter. To me, this was jarring and didn’t add anything new to the events happening in the main story.
Already there are parents telling their boys not to go out alone, not to stray too far.
I’m aware that this is a short review, but I’m struggling to find something positive to say. Unfortunately, The Power did not live up to the hype for me. It is a shame that I feel this way, as I honestly had such high hopes that it would become one of my favourite books. Please note that The Power contains several and graphic references to rape, sexual assault, murder, drugs and domestic violence. I can see what Naomi was trying to do with this book, with the obvious nods to rape culture, FGM, domestic violence and the effects of patriarchy in today’s society. However, I struggle to imagine that if women did wake up tomorrow with the power to inflict pain, that the world would soon descend into chaos, war, and violence.
Have you read The Power? What did you think?