The Power, by Naomi Alderman

Imagines a world where women have developed the ability to inflict electric shocks, and therefore are more powerful than men.

I bought this on Kindle after waking up in the middle of the night and, not being able to get back to sleep, reading a review of it somewhere. At the time it seemed like I simply had to have the book straight away. The next day I didn't feel quite so compelled to read it, but the idea retained its intrigue.

The main book is framed as being a novel that's being put forward for publication in a world several thousand years after the power developed, and it's therefore not clear whether it's meant to be an exact description of what really happened: by the admission of the "author", there are only scraps of archaeological evidence to go on.

It's a fairly exciting read though, as we see how the power first appears and then spreads across the world, with different societies reacting in different ways to the challenges that are thrown up. The main action takes place around the "current" (i.e. 2017) timeframe, and it feels quite "current", with electronic media and youtube being important to the plot.

The action focuses on five or six main characters including a US senator and her daughter, a woman who is a UK drug dealing gang, a juvenile delinquent-turned-nun, and a travelling journalist - only the last of these is a man. I found the nun stuff a bit difficult: it wasn't exactly magic realism but it was not as "real life" as the rest of it. But it was fairly important for the story as a whole.

I found myself fairly gripped by the start and end of the book, although things sagged in the middle a bit. The idea was really good; there was a reasonable attempt made to explain why this phenomenon emerged when it did, and the consequences were for the most part believable. Probably would look for other stuff by the author.

Completed : 23-April-2017

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