Naomi Alderman's The Power reimagines our world where the power dynamics between men and women are flipped. In her novel, women develop a biological weapon, an evolutionary trait that is suddenly reawakened by young girls. This electric power can debilitate and hurt others, making them physically threatening to all those around them. Throughout the world, women begin experimenting, training, and using their new ability to fight their oppressors. They create armies, establish new countries, and rapidly overturn our male-dominated society. Men soon feel threatened by this new strength as they lose the control and security they’ve long been accustomed to. While attempts to suppress and ‘cure’ women arise, the world is fundamentally changed and not for the better.
To say The Power is timely would be an understatement. As opposed to The Handmaid’s Tale, where female autonomy is stripped, Alderman allows us to imagine a new and thrilling world where women have all the control. We are introduced to multiple perspectives, both male and female, as they navigate new sensations of power and powerlessness. While momentarily gratifying, Alderman doesn’t shy away from the extreme imbalance. She reveals the abuses of power by women as they mercilessly attack and control men. While difficult to read, Alderman makes it clear that these abuses already exist in our own world and are often perpetrated by men. She forces the reader to acknowledge how power functions regardless of gender, how easily it can be used for violence instead of good. The Power is a smart and provocative novel, one that is closer to reality than we realize.