- About the Book
**WINNER OF THE 2017 BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION** What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power? 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.
Lest you think a world run by women is all kittens and rainbows, Alderman quickly puts that notion to rest with roving gangs of women who use their power to rape and pillage. And she effectively portrays the anger and fear of men who don't want to be displaced and how that ultimately leads to their destruction. Alderman's book is a smart, sometimes surprisingly funny, always thoroughly captivating read.
The winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, Naomi Alderman's The Power takes a simple-seeming science fiction premise what if women were suddenly more physically powerful than men? and spins a dystopian tale that is elegant, elaborate, insightful and frightening in its implications.... The Power possesses the urgency of a well-tuned thriller, but it is a serious-minded examination of religion, sex, identity and politics.... Alderman's novel stands out in a crowded field of latter-day disaster novels, an ingenious and accomplished tale that delivers unforeseen surprises and unexpected insights to the very end.
—San Francisco Chronicle
—San Francisco Chronicle
I was riveted by every page. Alderman's prose is immersive and, well, electric, and I felt a closed circuit humming between the book and me as I read.... World-building quibbles aside, it's difficult to bear the conclusion that the horrors of our times are inevitable and inescapable: that there will always be abuses of power, that the arc of the universe doesn't bend toward justice so much as inscribe a circle away from it, that if our world were destroyed and rebuilt with women in charge it would look exactly as it does with men in charge. The tension between thought experiment and gripping realism is tricky to navigate, and it left me wanting to argue, without quite knowing what the book's position ultimately was.
—New York Times
—New York Times
Alderman is a skillful writer whose book bristles with intelligence and wit. Sometimes, though, I felt distanced from the characters by her ironic tone, especially when it's clear from several poignant passages that she can do more.... The danger in any dystopian novel, I suppose, is that ideas will overwhelm character and plot. When Alderman returns in a coda to a further exchange of letters between Neil, the supposed author of The Power, and the future fictional version of herself, I found it unnecessarily didactic, if entertaining.... THE POWER is often disturbing, sometimes exhilarating and, above all, a healthy reminder --- particularly apt in the age of Trump, Cosby and Weinstein --- that even if women do not experience male violence in an immediate physical sense, the implied threat is always with us. Often that is enough to keep us frightened, silent, intimidated, self-censoring and powerless.
Alderman has written our era's Handmaid's Tale, and, like Margaret Atwood's classic, The Power is one of those essential feminist works that terrifies and illuminates, enrages and encourages.... Alderman's greatest feat is keeping this premise from settling toward anything obvious as she considers how the world would adjust if women held the balance of energy and could discharge it at will.... This book sparks with such electric satire that you should read it wearing insulated gloves.... So many books even great ones quickly go dim that picking one that might stay lit for decades is a fool's errand. But in this case, I'm eager to be that fool.
The Power, the first sci-fi book to win the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, was published in 2016, so it is not a response to our present political realities. In fact, Alderman has written a far more durable novel than that. After 100 pages of well-conducted revenge plots, she begins to chart her metaphor's deeper ramifications. What happens, this novel asks, to women who possess what is perceived to be unnatural power? And is power by nature destructive? Few writers are better suited to tell such a story.... If her first novels were wildly imagined, enjoyable, but occasionally opaque where lucidity was required, The Power is at once as streamlined as a 90-minute action film and as weirdly resonate as one of Atwood's own early fictions.... Jumping from one character to the next, writing in a propulsive unfussy style, Alderman has conducted a brilliant thought experiment in the nature of power itself.