Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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Reviewed by: Jen
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Page count: 400 Pages

Rating: 5 /5 stars
In stock: Yes – currently on our 25% off bestsellers wall

I’m 99% certain that this is my first ever Science Fiction read. At the risk of sounding like a celebrity worshiping sheep (WAIT….OMG, AM I A CELEBRITY WORSHIPING SHEEP?!), I’ll admit that what compelled me to pick it up was a post by Olivia Wilde on Instagram, with caption ‘Believe the hype’. I hadn’t heard any of said hype, nor did I spend much time sorting out what the book was about before picking it up. That said, Olivia Wilde fights a good social justice fight on social media, for whatever that’s worth, so her post coupled with seeing the cover adorned by Margaret Atwood’s testimonial: ‘Electrifying! Shocking! Will knock your socks off! Then you’ll think twice, about everything!’ was enough for me to venture beyond my comfort zone and become a proud first-time SciFi reader.

This review is not going to make the ranks of the highly thoughtful, intellectual ones I read about The Power online. I’m still not even entirely sure I understood most of the book, but that’s not really anything new for me. All I know is this: I could not put this book down once I started it. And this: it made me feel all kinds of ways – puffed up with ‘YAS! YOU GO, GIRL!’ + blind, fearful rage about how this SCIENCE FICTION BOOK TOUCHED WAAAAAAY TOO CLOSE TO HOME + pure and utter discomfort about all members of the human race…a pretty straightforward case of misanthropy, really.

Here’s a quick synopsis from the book’s publisher: 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.

And ohhhhh, snap – does it reset! The narratives of all of these characters leap and bound and twist and turn and sneak up on you. I particularly love this take by NPR, “Novels based on premises like the one at the core of The Power can quickly become little more than thought experiments, but Alderman dodges this trap deftly — her writing is beautiful, and her intelligence seems almost limitless. She also has a pitch-dark sense of humor that she wields perfectly.”  As important as this book’s ability to elicit all the feels is the fact that it grips readers of all genres, and that is why it has been on Bookland’s 25% off bestseller wall for a good 6 months (and counting), and why its list of 2017 awards is a long one. The potential for this book to turn non-readers into readers is huge, and that pleases me greatly. For that reason, I was ok with the fact that I constantly envisioned the chapter scenes in movie form, and pondered who would play Roxy Monke, one of the many female protagonists in The Power’s pages – something I rarely do while reading.

It also pleased me to read that this was one of President Obama’s favorite reads of 2017. Don’t we just miss him so much, though? Even more so after reading The Power, that’s for damn sure.

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