Buzzfeed’s book reviews have never steered me wrong, so when one of their lists suggested The Power as a must-read Dystopian novel, I felt I should give it a go. And it was WORTH IT. Disturbing, mind-bending, and surprising, The Power feels like this generation’s answer to The Handmaids Tale. I was not surprised to read that Alderman thanks Margaret Atwood in her acknowledgements because the book follows an updated take on the The Handmaid’s Tale structure. Complete with excerpts from fictional archaeological findings to the mind blowing epilogue and chapters counting down to an unknown coming, The Power is riveting and twisted.
At the start of the story, women across the world discover the awakening of an electromagnetic power in their collarbones that they control through their hands. Mass hysteria spreads and world governments grapple to handle this emerging power. Women everywhere become feared as unstable countries and masculine regimes are quickly toppled, sparking counter-terrorism and violence that all point to an impending global war. Intermixed in this global uprising is the birth of a new female religion fueled through Youtube videos and a terrified public’s quest for answers. Run by a seventeen-year-old girl of the foster system and a powerful mob boss’s daughter, the familiar world order teeters on the brink of oblivion.
Alderman tells her story from several different character perspectives, switching back and forth as the years progress to showcase not only the change environmentally, but intimately, as the female voices become stronger and more sure, and the male voices shrink in fear and vulnerability. Alderman turns sexism on its head in a way that gets to the heart of the issue far better, in my opinion, than Atwood ever came close to. While The Handmaid’s Tale focuses mostly on why its an atrocity to keep women in sub-human roles, Alderman’s story asks the question of whether or not the world would be any different if the roles were reversed. If women had the power to make it to the top, to be unconditionally and without a doubt the physically superior sex, would anything change?
At the beginning of this book, I was elated, rooting for women toppling abusive regimes, smiling as they took back their humanity, reveling in a world where men question walking alone while lone women strut confidently. But as the chapters move ever closer towards the unknown coming, the darkness of such absolute power takes hold, and then I doubted, and thought, and questioned. And I still don’t know anything other than absolute power in any form, given to anyone, will ultimately corrupt and turn on everyone.
It’s a fast read, hard to put down, and you will literally question everything when you get to the end.