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Words of a Bibliophile

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." —Bee Gees

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power - Naomi Alderman

This is not an easy read, with its frank depictions of violence and brutality, but an important one nonetheless. It's thought-provoking, disturbing, challenging. A combination of speculative fiction and political/crime thriller, the book describes what happens if women suddenly develop an extraordinary physical power which enables them to overturn the traditional male-female dynamics.

The story does drag in some places and I can understand some criticism of how it could have been written better. But I thought the idea was fantastic. The great irony and the genius in this is the fact that the things that happen in this book are exactly the things that have been happening and are continuously happening in our reality today, but with the sexes reversed.

If we as readers find it appalling that in the universe of this book men are dominated, undermined, objectified, oppressed, murdered, assaulted, sexually abused (and then accused to be "asking for it" or "enjoying it"), and generally considered lower-level, lesser human beings by women, then we should ask ourselves why it is acceptable that the very same things are overwhelmingly still being done in our own world to women by men. If this novel is considered a dystopia, than a different kind of dystopia is already happening today, has been happening for centuries.

But the book is not meant to condemn one of the sexes, or say one of them are evil or inherently more violent. Instead it is a critical study of power and how it corrupts. And, because "power doesn’t care who uses it", how dangerous it is to let one group disproportionately hold it and use it against others.

"When does power exist? Only in the moment it is exercised."