The Power by Naomi Alderman; Fiction; 4 stars on Amazon; 4 stars in my heart.
Ok, so I’m pretty into books. I love reading them, I love writing them, I love shoving them under my pillow at night so they’re there for me to grab and keep reading as soon as I wake up. I’m kind of a book nerd, but I’m ok with that. READING IS FUNDAMENTAL, PEOPLE. Posters hanging in elementary schools around the country agree with me.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to accept that most people I encounter are not averse to books. A lot of people even like books! But we’re older, and we work all day, and we aren’t in school so we don’t have teachers who are assigning us reading homework every night, and those of us who are in school are too busy reading things that aren’t books to have time to read things that are. I get that. I completely get how life works. However, I will say that you’d be surprised how much time you do have to do it if you just…did it.
But time is precious, and it’s of the essence, and it’s fleeting, and it’s money (etc.), so I’ve decided to try and help things out a little bit by at least proposing books I’ve read and other humans might enjoy. That way, busy people can see these recommendations and potentially spend less time finding books to read and more time reading them. (I’m creating efficiencies! MBAs are life-changing!)
Ok, so: I’ll only post about books I finish and actually like. To save some time. Because time is precious and of the essence and fleeting and money and so on, so who wants to waste their time reading books they don’t like and then writing about books they don’t like besides literally every person on Amazon?
All that said, I have great news. I JUST FINISHED A BOOK AND ACTUALLY LIKED IT. It’s called The Power by Naomi Alderman and Obama really liked it, too. Seriously. It even says so on the cover…see?
I won’t give spoilers but I will give a general gist so you know what the hell I’m even talking about, that way you can feel out if maybe you might like it, too!
Alright, so, The Power by Naomi Alderman is not exactly science fiction but it also kind of is. I say that because true, hardcore science fiction (to me) is like newly imagined worlds with their own laws of physics, fighting galaxy wars kind of stuff. Star Wars kind of stuff. I am not a huge fan of Star Wars kind of stuff. And I’m really sorry for just offending 99% of the world.
The Power is not Star Wars kind of stuff. It all takes place in our world with the same laws of physics we learned about and forgot about in high school. The main thing is, that after years and years and years of evolution, girls suddenly have this crazy new power that makes it possible for them to shoot crazy amounts of electrical currents out of their hands and into anything else. It’s like lightning. It will kill you. It suddenly really, really sucks to be a man.
I will say there is A LOT going on in this book. There are a lot of story lines and a lot of characters. That being said, I definitely forgot who some of these people were by the time their names came back up, but I could still follow and realize the moments when I was supposed to be freaking out. It starts out with what appears to be a friend of Naomi’s (the author) sending her an email asking her to read his latest manuscript and let him know her thoughts. Honestly, after we got about five pages into the actual “manuscript” I completely forgot that intro ever happened until they forced me to remember it at the end when Naomi and her friend start emailing back and forth again about their thoughts on the book. I will say, for a few seconds, I was rolling my eyes and kind of skimming through what seemed like an unnecessary dialogue, BUT THEN YOU GET TO THE LAST LINE AND…yeah. It’s one of those kind of books.
Ok, so the 300+ pages that happen in between Naomi chatting with her friend and Naomi chatting with her friend again are A LOT of fun. The book starts out with what is called “The Day of the Girls” – an event that happens in pretty much modern times – when girls around the world discover in their own isolated circumstances that they have this new power to, for simplicity’s sake, physically “shock” people. Then everyone starts taping it and throwing videos up on YouTube and a whole bunch of madness ensues from that point on.
The story is told (mainly) from the perspective of four people – a mobster’s daughter, a teenage girl in foster care, a female mayor, and a guy in his late teens who sets out on a mission to document all this craziness. It’s a story that explores what would happen if the power in the world quite instantly shifted from men’s hands to women’s; what the world would be if women who had been silenced, abused, paid less, passed over for promotion, stalked, cat-called, unappreciated, and under valued for pretty much all of time were suddenly and unarguably genetically and physically superior to men. And I think one of the creepiest and most captivating things about how all this goes down is that so much of it is reflective of what we already know that humankind is capable of doing to one another because we’ve done it to one another. Think slavery, the Holocaust, general crimes against humanity…we know we’re freaking awful to each other. We’ve seen one another be monsters. So, all of a sudden, all the stuff that’s happening in this book doesn’t seem all that science-fictiony after all.
If you’re into Margaret Atwood (she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale…which was a book…long before it was on Hulu), The Power reeks of those vibes. In a good way. Naomi (the author) even thanks Margaret Atwood in her Acknowledgements, so I assume that’s not a coincidence. And aside from being a good story on the surface, and a bigger story underneath the surface, I think it’s also worth mentioning that the writing itself really is just…good. Naomi has some hit-you-in-your-gut one-liners in this book and I love that. Who doesn’t want to be hit in their gut now and then? I mean, I do. Clearly Obama, does, too.
Could there be a more compelling stamp of approval than one that comes from the two of us??