Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Power by Naomi Alderman     {Reviewed by STELLA}
It’s hard to resist a book that has a thumbs-up from Margaret Atwood. The Power imagines a world where men live in fear of female power, where faiths arise following the wisdoms of Mother Mary, and wayward young women gain cult status. There are definite nods here to Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and the Gardeners of Eve in her 'MaddAddam' series. Alderman has created a piece of speculative fiction that pushes to the brink the idea of a physical ability which enables the disenfranchised to regain equilibrium in previously male-dominated society, but it also enables the more ruthless to secure the social status and political clout they desire. The Power, an electrical current which resides in a skein near the collarbone and is administered through the hands, develops initially in girls of 15, but within very little time can be triggered from one to the other and to older women. The charge, depending on how controlled it is, can cause pain, severe injury and death. The most interesting characters in The Power are: Allie, an American runaway foster child, who has reinvented herself as Eve, becoming a messiah figure with the help of the social media and YouTube; Roxy, the savvy child of a criminal father who heads a powerful drug syndicate operating from working-class Britain, whose Power is triggered when she witnesses the murder of her mother in a retribution killing; and Tunde, a young Nigerian from a wealthy family, whose personal experience as a teen leads him to become fascinated by these powerful women and to a very successful career as the reporter who is trusted to capture the stories of the increasing popular and powerful women, as well as their opponents, male-dominated counter-terror groups. All their stories are fascinating, and, as time progresses and we find ourselves in a countdown to a climactic happening, their lives become more intertwined and life becomes increasingly dangerous. This is a thought-provoking exploration of gender, the nature of cults and conformity, power and abuse.


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