The Power

The Power

Book - 2017
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She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets 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. Suddenly, girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonising pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of this novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light. What if the power to hurt were in women's hands?
Publisher: 2016. ,
London : 2017. Penguin Books,
ISBN: 9780670919963
Branch Call Number: AF ALDE

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t
talk2terih
Jul 26, 2018

I am of two minds about this book.
First, I found it very difficult to sit down and read. I found myself getting up to do some chore every few pages. Since being engrossed in a book is usually my litmus test of its quality, I can't say I cared much for it. I had to "assign myself" 50 pages to read per day, just to slog through it.
Second, there is some great writing craft here and some interesting concepts. The way author Ackerman shows us the progression of her characters as they incorporate their power into public life is deft and chilling. It takes virtually no time at all for Roxy to transform into a capo de capi gangster mastermind, for Allie to become a televangelist, tailoring her "cures" and messages to the revenue they can bring, or for Margot to embrace the role of corrupt, cutthroat politician, willing to steamroller everything in her path.
Soon men began to act as women had - fearful of assault and rape, anxious to please the women in their world and loathe to go against them.
All of that is handles seamlessly. You see the progression through the endless temptations that measurable power can provide. You can see how easy it is slip over the line.

j
JLMason
Jul 14, 2018

I agree with uncommonreader’s comment below. I will add that the most striking part of the book is the fictional letters between the female editor “Naomi” and the book's male author, written in the female dominated society of the future. The gender reversal in their conversation - the condescending tone, stereotyping, historical context of roles - is a mirror of our society. It’s quite jarring.

u
uncommonreader
Jun 22, 2018

This speculative fiction won the Bailey's prize. While it is quite readable, in the end, what did it have to say? That people exercise power because they can? I did not think that Alderman knew how to end the story.

r
Ratonai3
Jun 12, 2018

The premise was good as is the writing. I could not bring myself to care about the characters.

m
mckenzieseaux
May 30, 2018

The Power has an intriguing concept and I could not put it down for the first half. However, the ending felt unfinished and underwhelming. It was good but it definitely had potential to be enthrallingly excellent, and did not quite live up to those expectations. Otherwise, seeing the various effects of the societal power shift from patriarchy to matriarchy was fascinating.

p
PearlyBaker
May 13, 2018

I guess it just came out okay for me. Maybe it was just a weird time in my life. A transition period where my mind was flying 1000 different ways at once with ageing friends facing chronic illness, biotoxins, chronic pain or autoimmune disorders. Or maybe, unlike all my like my break-up excuses, it really wasn't me but the fault of the book (ie girlfriend) and I'm just trying to soften the blow on the author because I don't want to hurt their feelings and certainly don't want, as a constant reader them to ever, ever, ever stop writing. I don't know. It's a tough call but Obama liked this one I'll take his word since he and I were about the only two people I knew who didn't believe Colin Powell's fear tactics regarding Iraq on the weaponized media that included NBC, Fox News and NPR with the nightly sound bite, "What if the next terror attack is a mushroom cloud in New York City?" So I'm going to say it really was me baby, and this book was awesome.

r
rixonkj
May 11, 2018

This book is fantastic. Intense, well-plotted, with deft use of a handful of devices that I recognized as devices but that worked to keep me on the edge of my seat nevertheless.

I tend to be more optimistic than Alderman in my evaluation of human nature. I agree that power corrupts, but I think it would take a lot longer, and I think the ways in which society is shaped might be diverted in unexpected and interesting ways that Alderman does not, in the end pursue. This isn't really a critique of the book, though; I would have written a different one but so what? This one is good.

I really like the framing device, the future book manuscript complete with notes from an editor who does not recognize the bias in the manuscript feedback--I suspect Alderman may have copied almost verbatim from notes she as a woman writer has received from men in the publishing industry. This is actually a great microcosm of the book for me, actually: there is a kind of visceral satisfaction in seeing the gendered power structure eviscerated in this way, and yet I still wished there was some sign of what ELSE humans could do, abusive or not, other than wield power over each other.

t
The_Zookeeper
May 09, 2018

This was a great concept for a book, but at times it felt like the book was a little too loose. There could have been one less main character and the plot would have felt more closely knitted. The time frame also seemed a little too short. I can see some of this happening in third world countries, but the scale of what happened would have taken a much longer period of time.

e
elizali
Apr 03, 2018

Wow. This book was the most intense thing I have read in a long time. It was ghoulishly fun to see power dynamics shifted and a timely reminder that any power imbalance leads to disparity. This book is a page turner with a lot to unpack. Reads like an inverse of The Handmaid's Tale with many of the same themes and takeaways. Must read in 2018!

lindab1111 Mar 25, 2018

I usually don't read dystopian novels. I just don't like the genre. But this title began with a hopeful premise. If women had the power to free themselves literally and figuratively. I wanted this story to be more uplifting. Sadly, women with power were no better and had no vision other than revenge and hate. The world falls into chaos. And the spiritual voice that comes to Mother Eve has no message other than the world needs to be destroyed in order to make way for a "higher" way of being. And then the spiritual voice is done and disappears. What? This book could have been so much more.

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