What if in the future, by some freak genetic mutation, women become more physically powerful than men? This is the premise of Naomi Alderman’s ‘feminist fiction’, The Power.
A teenage girl discovers her hands are charged with electricity and attacks a man. But this isn’t an isolated incident. As the power emerges amongst girls globally, physical strength translates to cultural clout. There is a massive shift in sexual politics as women overthrow oppressive regimes, construct female-centric religions and dominate society.
The reversal of power is electrifying (sorry). It is crude but effective to read about a man fearful to walk the streets because of groups of women around or a male opinions being shouted down by the stronger sex. We see these smaller experiences through the eyes of four main characters, scattered across the globe.
Maybe some of it is too obvious. An exact reversal of paradigms gives a very black-and-white, upside-down dystopian feeling to the book. It reads a bit like Young Adult fiction (other than horrific violent scenes), although that’s not necessarily a criticism; it’s zingy and current with trolls living on Reddit and news through vloggers.
Either way, Alderman gets her point across loud and clear in this crackling, thrilling page-turner that will leave you gasping for breath but also pausing for thought.
Read: to challenge your assumptions on gender