Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

Hey everyone, thanks for checking out my book review for The Power by Naomi Alderman. I am still new to writing book reviews so please be nice.. I hope to get better the more I do!

I absolutely loved the idea of this book. I had heard great things from other people who had read it and who had described it to me as the ‘feminist take on a dystopian world’. The idea that the stereotypical role of men being the powerful gender and women the quiet and subservient gender would be reversed and what would happen to the world was one that intrigued me. So I picked up this book from a charity store and read it whilst on holiday.

I was particular interested as I have been watching and reading a lot of feminist and anti-feminist viewpoints lately (you can see my blog post about the documentary The Red Pill for my view on this) and wanted to see how the feminist ideals were portrayed here . Specifically, I wanted to see if this was a ‘women would do such a better job, men hate women so women should hate men’ kind of book. And to be perfectly honest, after finishing reading it I still don’t really have an answer to this. It doesn’t exactly say that, but it doesn’t exactly sing the praises of men either. It doesn’t say that women SHOULD hate men, just that they WOULD hate men.

The book follows a few different protagonists as they discover the new world of women being the more powerful gender with the discovery of the ‘skein’, a non-vital organ that most girls are born with and allows them to manipulate electricity. It shows the founding of a new religion in which everyone follows ‘Mother Eve’ and her teachings that Jesus was not the important part of Christianity, but his mother Mary. The main message I got is that if women were suddenly more powerful, they would act exactly as men act nowadays and not any better. Religion would continue to make people do crazy things and people in power would still abuse that power. And I actually agree with this. I agree that it is probably human nature to ‘do it just because you can’ and not just a male nature. At times some of the scenes made me uncomfortable, the idea of a man being raped so viciously, or of their penis being ‘curbed’ was particularly disturbing. But then I thought, why is it so disturbing when it is this way around? Rape happens, female genital mutilation happens… why did I not like it in particular when it was to a man? And to that I do not know, but I appreciate that this book made me think about it from that point of view.

Whilst I appreciate the story and how it made me think, I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that I didn’t like. There was a scene when Tatiana says the man in front of her ‘does not know how to be silent, thinks we always want to hear what he has to say …. interrupting his betters’. The scene shows very well how people can go crazy with power and the point I am taking away wasn’t necessarily the point the author was trying to get across. It just hit a bit close to what feminists say about ‘manterrupting’ and ‘mansplaining’. And I get that the author wanted us to see that men expecting women to be silent and not interrupt happens in many cultures nowadays, but it just made me think about how actually, women expect the same of men sometimes. Why is it that some people only see the most obvious form of suppressing people? By telling someone to stop ‘mansplaining’ or ‘manterrupting’ it is essentially the same as telling them that their point of view is worthless.

In terms of the structure of the story, I really liked the different view points. I didn’t feel there were too many main characters to keep up with and I didn’t think there were too few that it was boring. I thought the author did a great job of getting this just right. One thing that confused me at times was the placement of the images throughout of historical artifacts etc, I think maybe it would’ve been easier to understand if these had all been placed together. Maybe that was just me…

Overall I would say I am very glad to have read this book. Whilst it didn’t quite meet all my expectations, it definitely got me thinking about different issues… and that is really what you want from a good book isn’t it?

My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 3.5/5


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