It starts with a tingling in the fingers, a feeling of focus, of a change in the rhythm of the world, a pricking of the thumbs.
Power is everywhere, it is under our feet, it circles around the cities and towns we have made our homes. We gather it and order it and make it flow from the centre outwards in a network like veins, pulsing with an electric heartbeat that keeps things functioning just as they always have. Yet power transfers and the time is coming for it to change hands.
What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?
Imagine a world where teenage girls awake one morning with extraordinary physical strength and power that outstrips their male counterparts. Thanks to a newly acquired section of muscle near their collarbone, young women can now conduct electricity like electric eels: inflicting pain or electrocuting to death as they wish. They can even waken this power in older women too. In Naomi Alderman’s The Power, the balance of the world is irrevocably altered overnight.
The novel weaves four central points of view; that of Margot, the ruthlessly ambitious member of American government; Roxy, the somewhat gullible daughter of a London gangster; Tunde, a young Nigerian man who documents the worldwide change known as Day of the Girls; and Allie, a teenage runaway who becomes revered as a deity; through their experiences, we witness the ways in which women utilise their newfound dominance.
This brave new world is far from a utopia however. As uprisings and revolts spread through the world and after the initial delight in female empowerment subsides, a darker side to the new world order emerges.
Exploring the concepts of gender, hierarchy and power, The Power is an ingenious and masterfully crafted piece of feminist science fiction as well as a searing indictment of our contemporary world.