Having just, well finally, finished DANGEROUS PRACTICES by Francis Roe (great book! I just took three years to complete it because I was… um, busy?), I set out on a quest for another good read. I was about a year late when I discovered this novel in the “New Release” window of Waterstone’s here in Manchester: THE POWER by Naomi Alderman. An award-winning novel about powerful women, written by a woman?!? I skimmed the pages and read in full the Author notes, biography and external reviews. I left the bookstore with my pocket about nine quid lighter and a stronger desire to read than recent days.
By the way: There is an important conversation, in the form of written letters, you mustn’t miss before the actual stories begin.
My initial thoughts were those of a sympathetic bystander who had witnessed the abusive relationship of a friend for whom I had no consolation to offer. Why would someone write about this???? I even put the book aside for several days without even so much as looking in its direction. This was only within the first- eh let’s say- thirty pages. I expressed to my partner my disgust and concern for Alderman’s future as an author. The last page I had read before my miniature boycott was discussing topics to which I felt deeply connected, thus I fled from the scene as quickly as possible. OK! I punked out. A couple of weeks passed. I was home for several days, so I decided to control THE POWER’s affect on me by reading strictly as a critic. Psh! Sure… that didn’t last long. Every page began with one of the main character’s last encounters; the sections were fluid, so vivid! I was drawn in once again. I was Jos, Tunde, Roxy, Allie and Madame Cleary!
To be a reporter during the zombie apocalypse is one thing. To be a reporter during an apocalypse for which none of us has been prepared is another. Tunde is a young, attractive man who uses his whit, charm and “easy” smile to work his way onto numerous scenes which he otherwise would not be invited. As a male reporter in a world controlled by women who happen to have an electric power seems indeed rather intimidating; so, I honestly don’t blame Tunde for using what he has to get by. Women do it all the time, right??? We’ll call this the introduction of the perpetual role reversal within these pages. Allie is an adolescent who is forced to mature far beyond her own mental capacity. Literally. By the time she is in a safe place and seemingly stable, it is clear that she is in far more danger with herself than anticipated. I blame the voice in her head. Carry on. Madame Margot Cleary and her daughter Jocelyn (Jos) are so opposite that they are one, in a sense. With an image to uphold and reputation to maintain, Margot overlooks the possibility of her own daughters, and even herself, contributing to the inevitable Armageddon. Jocelyn, however, is well aware of her Power which is less than adequate in comparison to her little sister and most girls her age. If I’m being honest, it is quite clear that Jos is unlike other girls in general. Let’s say she’s curious. Roxy, Roxy. She is one of my favourite characters truthfully. Roxy is mentally, physically and emotionally strong throughout her journey, and even still once her Power is stifled. There is a complete one-eighty transformation for each personality.
Every persona has their own story that is a part of the main narrative, which essentially brings them to a point of intersection. I’m glad I kept reading. This is quite brilliantly written in my opinion. Sure, some of the pages were glossed in pure rape and pillage and other horrific visuals. I was physically nauseated whilst reading most days, but that darn human instinct to finish what I started just wouldn’t let me quit. The mere idea of women ruling the world seems so far fetched yet absolutely within reach after reading THE POWER. There are so many twists… even through the end where Naomi and her pen pal continue their discussion. The fact that this is all fiction had me perplexed as there are convincing drawings of devices, goddesses/gods and even the symbol of the Power. Bravo!
Rubber boots may have worked for a while, but there is no way to escape THE POWER.
Side Note: This only took me about eight weeks to read, for your information. And that’s INCLUDING my hiatus. Take that!