Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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The Power by Naomi Alderman / ★★ 1/2

Summary: Women suddenly gain an extraordinary power. They can control, kill, cause extraordinary pain- all with the touch of their hands. As this power is revealed in more and more women, civilization as the world knows it begins to change radically- and not necessarily for the better.

It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.

Genre: Dystopian/Sci-fi

Plot

The concept of this book is fascinating, but unfortunately the execution of it just couldn’t grip me. It wasn’t a bad book, it was well written and proposed compelling ideas, but it was all just a little too blatant for me. Too “I know what this book wants me to get out of it.” Nothing about this book surprised me or shocked me, even though it did get gruesome. Nothing about this book was really unexpected, even the twist(s) at the end. I did like how the book was framed though, as a historical novel written in the future about when the Power first came about.

I was engaged with this book at first. It was interesting watching the female characters discover their powers, but then the book seemed to escalate very quickly, which really testing the breaking point of my believability. It’s not that I find this book unbelievable, per say, just that too much happened too soon, and because of that, a lot of it seemed outlandish. I found it difficult to believe that the women of Saudi Arabia would rebel against their government so immediately and so radically, and I think a deeper exploration of culture would have lent a lot to that particular plot point. The cultural aspects of this novel seemed very oversimplified. I found the religious plotline to be overly contrived. Those were the parts that I began to skim first (though I loved the use of the Bible verse from the book of Samuel at the beginning, and how it came back in the end).

I felt like this book could have used a bit more nuance, a bit more depth, and more ambiguity. And, perhaps most importantly, engaging characters. There was a lot going on, and a lot happened in a relatively short span of time, but I still found this book slow to get through and my interest in it waned the farther I read. I skimmed/sped read about the last 100 pages, and while The Power is a book based on a fascinating concept and full of interesting ideas, but it was a bit too pointed for me to actually enjoy it, and by the end I was just bored.

Characters

I don’t think my boredom with this book stemmed from the plot, but from the characters. I just…didn’t really care about any of them. None of them won me over particularly, except, perhaps, for the sole male character in the book, Tunde, interestingly enough. Was it because I sympathized with him? Or for him? Jocelyn, too, I sympathized with- a character who had struggles in harnessing her power. It’s interesting, how those with the power I cared for less (especially Margot, the politician, oh my gosh, she bored me to DEATH).

This book is told through multiple points of views, and it’s revealing how my interest in each character’s point of view shifted. How much I liked or disliked a character didn’t necessarily correlate with how much I enjoyed their point of view (I said I liked Tunde best- but some of his chapters had me snoozing). And a particularly interesting point of view by a character didn’t necessarily make me more interested in them. Roxy, a teenage girl from a dangerous family, was the most mixed bag of all. I’d eagerly begin her point of views only to find myself bored, or I’d start them less than enthused and find that I was enjoying myself.

Had this book been stronger in character, I am sure that I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. The plot of the book steered them too pointedly for my taste, and I think because of that I felt they lacked nuance and depth I was hoping for.

Writing

I really have nothing to complain about with the writing of this book. It was very well done. While I slogged through a lot of this book, it was a relatively easy read. I wasn’t a big fan of some of the Bible-speak in the prose, but I understood its use. Otherwise, this is a book of quality writing, if not necessarily of the most engaging storytelling.

Was I satisfied?

I wish! This book had a lot of interesting stuff going on and surrounded a fascinating concept, but it’s execution just didn’t do it for me. It was too outlandish and the characters mostly bored me. It was a bit too “nail on the head” and I wish it’d been more thought-provoking. I admit I liked the ending, though. I don’t think this is a bad book, just one that I didn’t enjoy.

I got this book through through the Book of the Month Club, from which you can pick a brand new release every month!  If you want to subscribe to Book of the Month, you can use my referral link!

18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

  1. such a great review Steph! it’s so true that what characters we root for really reveals who we are lolol. i always wanted to check this one out! now it might stay on my TBR list for a bit longer before i read it

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a pity you didn’t like The Power! I have it on my TBR and I keep seeing reviews of either “OMG this is brilliant” or “Meh”, and I’m not sure what to expect from it by now… but it’s really hard to like a book if, as you said, the characters are just not people you come to care about… so we’ll see!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s definitely still worth a read, because I don’t think it’s a bad book, just one that was a little too on the nose for me. I can understand why people love it, though, because it does make a big statement. I look forward to seeing what you think about it if you read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OH NO…… too on the nose + boring characters seems like a recipe for a book I am gonna hate tbh. I’ll still give it a try hopefully this month to get it out of the way. I’m so sad because the premise is rad 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I think I enjoyed the book much more than you did, but I can’t argue with your points, especially about the characters. I don’t think I particularly connected with any, and kept confusing two of the female characters for at least half the book! I was disturbed by the way the situation built, with the women taking on more and more of the abusive qualities of power. The author seems to be portraying that as an inevitable outcome of power inequality, but I’m not sure I buy it. Still, the premise is fascinating, and parts were truly disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All very true!! I did feel like there could have been more diversity personality-wise between the female characters, and I think that’s really what I was craving. I’m not sure I buy the ending either, but I wasn’t surprised that she decided to take that route with it. I liked the whole male/female author thing at the end, though, which was still a BIT contrived to me, but I liked how it wrapped it all up.

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  6. Great review! I heard great things about this book but I found it difficult to read myself. My momentum kept going out every time she changed the characters. I felt like there was no real connection up until the midway point. And then it was smoother but by that point, I already lost interest in the characters. I liked Allie at first until she became Mother Eve. I liked Jocelyn as well so I was glad that she eventually got her own chapters.
    I wish she would have had a scientist instead of a politician as a character. It would have made the Power more interesting in my opinion. Margot really didn’t add anything to the story other than the introduction that the power can be awoken by a younger girl…and the dangers of becoming power hungry too quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I 100% agree about momentum running out when she switched between characters- I’d just get into one or comfortable in one, and since the characters were going through quite different things, it could be jarring to switch, especially when it switched to someone I was less interested in. And I also agree that I found Allie far more interesting before she became Mother Eve! Mother Eve was just a bit….too much for me and I found that plot line boring as it went on, but I found her really interesting when we first met her. I think had there been more Jocelyn I might have enjoyed it more, because I really liked her conflict with her underdeveloped power, and especially how she knew that boy who also had it.

      Margot was definitely my least favorite, and I love the suggestion that she should have been a scientist! I think that would have been far more fascinating. Totally agree that her profession as a politician was REALLY boring, I really slogged through her chapters.

      This book had such an interesting concept but it came up just a little too short. Thank you so much for this comment, I loved your thoughts on it!!

      Liked by 1 person

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