The Power by Naomi Alderman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Not for me. A clever idea which I can appreciate but the narrative felt detached, way too preachy and a lot of – oh look isn’t this horrible/shocking/perverse and yet men do this to women “all the time” – kind of over the top feminism.
The story jumped too much, I think perhaps it would work better in a visual medium as it had a reportage style to it and I would just get interested in one person’s story before it would then switch without warning to someone else. In addition, I didn’t find all of the character’s stories compelling, I found the male viewpoint more interesting – perhaps that was a deliberate choice – and some of the others were just tedious.
In another review, the author of that has likened this to reading like the script for a TV series box set and I’d have to agree with that.
I’m also reminded of the scenes where the women in Saudi Arabia, possibly one of the world’s most repressed in a patriarchal society, gain The Power and suddenly embrace all of what’s generally considered to be the freer “Western world” culture by going out and having sex with strangers. It felt a little bit insensitive and perhaps misunderstanding of the Islamic culture to make an assumption that it is only male repressive behaviour which stops them from going out on a “free love” kick. I suspect that’s not the case at all.
The book raises questions and then lets the reader draw their own conclusions which is, on the one hand a tried and tested method of writing, but at the same time is increasingly frustrating when a narrative ends with no conclusion. The affectation of having the book “wrapped” as a manuscript being sent to someone else and it all being from a male perspective also just rubbed me up the wrong way.
I think, like this author’s mentor Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, The Power is a case of “it’s probably not the book, it’s me” as I felt absolutely no desire to pick it up and continue reading it but as it was my book club’s choice to read, I dislike not finishing a book.
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