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The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power

by Naomi Alderman

Quick take

"I felt the electricity running through my arms, I imagined how I could harness it."

Why I love it

Laia Garcia

The Power has a simple premise: young girls around the world suddenly realize that they have the ability to send electric currents through their fingers, jolts that can injure or even kill others. Soon it is revealed that all women have this power—they just have to harness it. As power literally shifts from the hands of men to the hands of women, power structures around the world are threatened and the world become a dangerous and unstable place. We follow three women and one man as they make their way through this new world.

In Alderman’s hands, this world seems both strangely familiar and totally alien. In fact, I was struck by how many times I forgot I was reading a work of fiction. Thinking about the men’s rights activist of our real world, versus the men’s rights activist of this parallel world where a matriarchy is threatening to take hold, I felt the electricity running through my arms, I imagined how I could harness it. I wanted to believe this power was really there all along, and that after I finished reading the book I would be able to shock the world around me. What if I could go anywhere I wanted? What if I never felt fear? I know that what ifs are pointless and yet—how sweet that vision of paradise seemed.

In the hands of another writer, this story could’ve become another empowerment cliché full of empty platitudes, and faux feminism. But it was Alderman who created this world, and her vision has endless depth. I devoured this book in a couple of days, and every time I turned the page was a bittersweet moment: I was so completely invested in the story but I knew the sooner I got ahead, the sooner the whole thing would be over. I did not want this book to be over. I did not want to go back to my world, where there aren’t any what ifs to help me escape reality. Where everything is what it is.

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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.

From award-winning author Naomi Alderman, The Power is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

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