The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power pic‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman, Viking, 2016
Winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction
Review by Sarah O’Mahoney

What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power?

”She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The riverlets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.”

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power—they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

This book is literally electrifying, subversive and scary. It all strangely makes sense that it could happen and the world tip on its head so women rule. As I began to read this futuristic tale I was nodding and going YESS, when the young girls first discover their power, like when Wonder Woman kicks ass. But as things go on and the power starts to corrupt and become vengeful, then the terror really begins and loyalties change. The book certainly packs a punch, makes you think, makes you dream makes you tingle and makes you wonder: what if?

Comparisons to the feel of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale – creating a storm in its latest TV adaptation, are evident. In fact Margaret Atwood mentored Naomi Alderman during the writing of The Power. What a combination!
As Laurie Penny put it in her article, ‘In Science Fiction, the future is feminist’, “Right now the real world seems to be out of ideas about how to organize its future – and that’s exactly why women’s fantasy futures feel more necessary than ever”