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The Power

The Power

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The Power

valoraciones:
3/5 (1,202 valoraciones)
Longitud:
435 páginas
6 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
22 jun 2017
ISBN:
9788416867783
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

¿Y si el poder estuviera literalmente en manos de las mujeres?

Una novela de ciencia ficción feminista seleccionada como libro del año por The Guardian.

Una niña en la América profunda escapa de un padre maltratador.

Un chico en Nigeria filma a una mujer que está siendo atacada en un supermercado.

La hija de un criminal del este de Londres ve cómo su madre es asesinada.

Una senadora en Nueva Inglaterra se esfuerza por proteger a su hija.

Cuatro personajes que sufren las tensiones construidas a través de siglos de desequilibrio y amenaza están dispuestos a llegar lejos en su determinación por establecer un nuevo orden mundial.

Cuatro chicas que descubren que poseen un poder: el de la electricidad. Con un simple movimiento de sus manos, pueden infligir un dolor agonizante e incluso la muerte.

Un nuevo poder, extraordinario y devastador, ha llegado y cambiará el mundo para siempre.

Editorial:
Publicado:
22 jun 2017
ISBN:
9788416867783
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Namoi Alderman fue escogida como una de las mejores novelistas jóvenes de 2013 por Granta. The Times ha destacado "su capacidad para el pensamiento original y la brillantez de su escritura."  Apadrinada por Margaret Atwood dentro del Programa Rolex Mentor y Portégé Arts Initiative, su primera novela, Disobedience, ha sido traducida a diez idiomas y fue ganadora del Premio Orange. En 2007, Alderman fue destacada por el Sunday Times como el mejor escritor joven del año, y uno de los 25 Escritores para el Future de la librería Waterstones. Presenta Science Stories en la BBC Radio 4, y es profesora de escritura creativa en la Universidad de Bath. Es periodista en The Observer, donde tiene una columna sobre tecnología y juegos. También es la co-creadora y escritora del videojuego Zombies, run! En la actualidad vive en Londres.


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Vista previa del libro

The Power - Naomi Alderman

13-17

Faltan diez años

Roxy

La encierran en el armario mientras lo hacen. Lo que no saben es que Roxy ya ha estado encerrada antes ahí. Cuando se porta mal, su madre la mete unos minutos, hasta que se calma. Poco a poco, a base de horas de estar allí dentro, ha conseguido soltar la cerradura rascando los tornillos con una uña o un clip. Habría podido quitarla cuando quisiera, pero no lo hizo porque entonces su madre habría puesto un pestillo por fuera. Le bastaba con saber, allí sentada a oscuras, que si realmente quisiera podría salir. El conocimiento es tan bueno como la libertad.

Por eso creen que la tienen ahí encerrada, sana y salva. Pero ella sale, y así es como acaba viéndolo.

Los hombres llegan a las nueve y media de la noche. Se suponía que Roxy tenía que haber ido a casa de sus primos esa noche; hacía semanas que habían quedado así, pero había incordiado a su madre por no haberle comprado las medias que quería en Primark, así que su madre dijo: «No irás, te quedarás aquí». Como si a Roxy le importara ir a casa de sus puñeteros primos.

Cuando los tipos dan una patada a la puerta y la ven ahí, enfurruñada en el sofá junto a su madre, uno dice:

—Joder, está la niña.

Son dos hombres, uno más alto con cara de rata, el otro más bajo y con las mandíbulas cuadradas. No los conoce.

El bajo agarra a su madre por la garganta, el alto persigue a Roxy por la cocina. Ya casi ha llegado a la puerta trasera cuando la agarra por el muslo. Ella cae hacia delante y el hombre la coge por la cintura. Roxy no para de patalear y dar gritos, «¡Suéltame, joder!», y cuando le tapa la boca con la mano ella la muerde con tanta fuerza que siente el sabor de la sangre. Él está sudando, pero no la suelta. La arrastra por el salón. El tipo más bajo ha empujado a su madre contra la chimenea. En ese momento Roxy lo nota, siente que empieza a brotar en su interior, pero no sabe qué es. Solo es una sensación en la punta de los dedos, un cosquilleo en los pulgares.

Se pone a gritar. Su madre no para de decir:

—No le hagáis daño a mi Roxy, no le hagáis daño, joder, no sabéis dónde os habéis metido, esto se os volverá en contra como el fuego, vais a desear no haber nacido. Su padre es Bernie Monke, por Dios.

El bajo se echa a reír.

—Resulta que estamos aquí para darle un mensaje a su padre.

El tipo alto mete a Roxy a empujones en el armario de debajo de la escalera, tan rápido que ella no sabe qué está pasando hasta que se impone la oscuridad alrededor y el dulce olor polvoriento de la aspiradora. Su madre grita.

Roxy está sin aliento. Tiene miedo, pero necesita llegar hasta su madre. Gira uno de los tornillos de la cerradura con la uña. Uno, dos, tres giros y está fuera. Salta una chispa entre el metal del tornillo y su mano. Electricidad estática. Se siente extraña; concentrada, como si pudiera ver con los ojos cerrados. Tornillo inferior, uno, dos, tres giros. Su madre dice:

—Por favor, por favor, no. Por favor. ¿Qué es esto? Solo es una niña. Solo es una niña, por Dios.

Uno de los hombres se ríe por lo bajo.

—No me ha parecido una niña.

La madre suelta un chillido. Suena como el metal en un motor malo.

Roxy intenta deducir dónde están situados los hombres en la sala. Uno está con su madre. El otro… oye un ruido a su izquierda. Su plan es salir con sigilo, golpear al alto por detrás a la altura de las rodillas, pisarle la cabeza, y así serán dos contra uno. Si llevan armas, no las han enseñado. No es la primera vez que Roxy se pelea. La gente dice cosas sobre ella. Y sobre su madre. Y su padre.

Uno. Dos. Tres. Su madre vuelve a gritar, Roxy saca la cerradura de la puerta y la abre de un golpe con todas sus fuerzas.

Tiene suerte, le ha dado al alto por detrás con la puerta. El hombre da un traspié, pierde el equilibrio, ella lo agarra por el pie derecho y él se desploma sobre la alfombra. Se oye un crujido, le sangra la nariz.

El tipo más bajo presiona una navaja contra la garganta de su madre. La hoja le hace un guiño, plateada y sonriente.

La mujer abre los ojos de par en par.

—Corre, Roxy —dice en un susurro, pero Roxy lo percibe como si estuviera dentro de su cabeza: «Corre. Corre».

Roxy no sale corriendo de las peleas del colegio. Si haces eso, nunca pararán de decir: «Tu madre es una zorra y tu padre un delincuente. Ten cuidado, Roxy te robará el libro». Tienes que patearlos hasta que suplican. No sales corriendo.

Algo está pasando. La sangre le palpita en las orejas. Siente un cosquilleo que se expande por la espalda, los hombros, la clavícula. Le dice: puedes hacerlo. Le dice: eres fuerte.

Salta por encima del hombre tumbado, que gruñe y se manosea la cara. Roxy va a agarrar a su madre de la mano y salir de ahí. Solo necesitan estar en la calle. Eso no puede pasar ahí fuera, a plena luz del día. Encontrarán a su padre, él lo solucionará. Son solo unos pasos, pueden hacerlo.

El tipo bajo le da un fuerte golpe a su madre en el estómago. Ella se dobla de dolor y cae sobre las rodillas. El hombre agita la navaja hacia Roxy.

El tipo alto gime.

—Tony, recuerda, la niña no.

El tipo bajo le da una patada al otro en la cara. Una, dos. Tres.

—No digas mi puto nombre.

El tipo alto se queda callado. Su cara borbotea sangre. Roxy sabe que ahora está en apuros. Su madre grita: «¡Corre! ¡Corre!». Roxy siente como si tuviera alfileres y agujas clavadas en los brazos. Como pinchazos de agujas de luz que van desde la columna hasta la clavícula, desde la garganta hasta los codos, muñecas y las yemas de los dedos. Brilla por dentro.

El hombre estira una mano hacia ella, en la otra sujeta la navaja. Roxy se dispone a darle una patada o un puñetazo, pero el instinto le dice otra cosa. Le agarra la muñeca. Retuerce algo en lo más profundo de su pecho, como si siempre hubiera sabido cómo hacerlo. Él intenta zafarse, pero es demasiado tarde.

Ella sostuvo el relámpago en la mano. Le ordenó descargar.

Se ve un chisporroteo y un sonido parecido al crujir del papel. Percibe un olor entre tormenta y pelo quemado. El sabor que nota debajo de la lengua es de naranjas amargas. Ahora el hombre bajo está en el suelo, sollozando como si tarareara sin palabras. No para de apretar y abrir la mano. Tiene una larga marca roja que le sube por el brazo desde la muñeca. La ve incluso debajo del vello rubio: es de color escarlata, el dibujo de un helecho, con sus hojas y zarcillos, yemas y ramas. Su madre está boquiabierta, la mira fijamente, aún le caen las lágrimas.

Roxy tira del brazo de su madre, que está anonadada y lenta, y con la boca aún dice: «Corre, corre». Roxy no sabe qué ha hecho, pero sí que cuando luchas contra alguien más fuerte y está derrotado, te vas. Pero su madre no se mueve lo bastante rápido. Antes de que Roxy pueda levantarla, el tipo bajo empieza a decir: «Ah, no, tú no te vas».

Está alerta, se está poniendo en pie, avanza a duras penas entre ellas y la puerta. Tiene una mano muerta a un lado, pero la otra sujeta la navaja. Roxy recuerda qué ha sentido al hacer lo que fuera que ha hecho. Coloca a su madre tras ella.

—¿Qué tienes ahí, niña? —dice el hombre. Tony. Le recordará el nombre a su padre—. ¿Una batería?

—Apártate —dice Roxy—. ¿Quieres volver a probarlo?

Tony retrocede unos cuantos pasos. Le mira los brazos. Observa para ver si tiene algo en la espalda.

—Lo has tirado, ¿verdad, niña?

Roxy recuerda lo que sintió. El giro, la explosión hacia fuera.

Avanza un paso hacia Tony. Él se mantiene firme. Ella da otro paso. Él se mira la mano inerte. Aún le tiemblan los dedos. Niega con la cabeza.

—No tienes nada.

Avanza hacia ella con la navaja. Ella estira el brazo y le toca el dorso de la mano buena. Hace el mismo giro.

No pasa nada.

Él rompe a reír. Se coloca la navaja en los dientes. Le agarra las dos muñecas con una mano.

Roxy lo vuelve a intentar. Nada. El hombre la obliga a arrodillarse.

Entonces siente un golpe en la nuca y pierde el conocimiento.


Cuando despierta, el mundo está en perpendicular. Ve la chimenea, como siempre. La moldura de madera alrededor de la chimenea. La tiene contra el ojo, le duele la cabeza y tiene la boca aplastada contra la alfombra. Nota el sabor de la sangre en los dientes. Algo gotea. Cierra los ojos. Los vuelve a abrir y sabe que han pasado más de unos minutos. Fuera, la calle está en silencio. La casa está fría. Y torcida. Se siente fuera de su cuerpo. Tiene las piernas apoyadas en una silla, la cabeza cuelga hacia abajo, presionada contra la alfombra y la chimenea. Intenta incorporarse, pero es demasiado esfuerzo, así que se retuerce y deja caer las piernas al suelo. Le duele, pero por lo menos está toda en el mismo nivel.

Los recuerdos regresan en destellos rápidos. El dolor, luego el origen del dolor, luego lo que hizo. Luego su madre. Se incorpora despacio, y al hacerlo se nota las manos pegajosas. Y algo que gotea. La alfombra está empapada, hay una mancha roja formando un ancho círculo alrededor de la chimenea. Ahí está su madre, con la cabeza apoyada en el reposabrazos del sofá. Tiene un papel sobre el pecho, con un dibujo a rotulador de una prímula.

Roxy tiene catorce años. Es una de las más jóvenes, y una de las primeras.

Tunde

Tunde está haciendo largos en la piscina, chapoteando más de lo necesario para que Enuma se fije en él sin que parezca que quiere que se fije en él. Ella está hojeando la revista Today’s Woman; vuelve a fijar la vista en la revista cada vez que él levanta la cabeza para mirarla, finge estar decidida a leer sobre Toke Makinwa y la retransmisión de su boda sorpresa de invierno en su canal de YouTube. Sabe que Enuma lo está mirando. Y cree que ella sabe que él lo sabe. Es emocionante.

Tunde tiene veintiún años, acaba de salir de ese período de la vida en el que todo parece tener el tamaño equivocado, es demasiado largo o demasiado corto, apunta en la dirección equivocada, es rígido. Enuma tiene cuatro años menos pero es más mujer que él hombre, recatada pero no ignorante. Tampoco demasiado tímida, no en los andares o en la sonrisa fugaz que se le dibuja en la cara cuando entiende una broma un instante antes que los demás. Está de visita en Lagos desde Ibadan; es la prima de un amigo de un chico que Tunde conoce de su clase de fotoperiodismo de la universidad. Durante el verano ha habido unas cuantas como ella rondando por ahí. Tunde la vio el día de su llegada. Su sonrisa discreta y las bromas que al principio él no captaba que eran bromas. Y la curva de las caderas, y la manera de rellenar las camisetas, sí. Ha sido todo un tema conseguir estar a solas con Enuma. Si algo es Tunde es obstinado.

Al principio de su visita Enuma dijo que nunca había disfrutado de la playa: demasiada arena y demasiado viento. Las piscinas son mejores. Tunde esperó uno, dos, tres días, luego propuso una excursión: podrían ir todos a la playa de Akodo, comer de pícnic, pasar el día. Enuma dijo que prefería no ir. Tunde fingió no darse cuenta. La víspera del viaje, empezó a quejarse de tener el estómago revuelto. Es peligroso nadar quejándose del estómago: el agua fría puede afectar al sistema digestivo. Deberías quedarte en casa, Tunde. Pero me perderé la excursión a la playa. No deberías nadar en el mar. Enuma se queda, llamará a un médico si lo necesitas.

Una de las chicas dijo:

—Pero estaréis solos, en esta casa.

Tunde deseó que enmudeciera en ese preciso instante.

—Mis primos vendrán más tarde —contestó.

Nadie preguntó qué primos. Había sido uno de esos veranos ociosos de calor y gente entrando y saliendo de la gran casa de la esquina del Ikoyi Club.

Enuma consintió. Tunde se percató de que no protestaba. No le dio un golpe en la espalda a su amiga y le pidió que se quedara también en casa y no fuera a la playa. No dijo nada cuando él se levantó media hora después de que partiera el último coche, se estiró y dijo que se encontraba mucho mejor. Lo observó mientras saltaba del trampolín corto a la piscina, y vio el destello de su sonrisa rápida.

Él da un giro bajo el agua, limpio, los pies apenas rompen la superficie. Se pregunta si ella le ha visto hacerlo, pero Enuma no está. Mira alrededor, ve sus piernas esbeltas, los pies desnudos saliendo de la cocina. Lleva una lata de Coca-Cola.

—Eh —dice, imitando un tono señorial—. Eh, criada, tráeme esa Coca-Cola.

Ella se vuelve y sonríe con los ojos bien abiertos y límpidos. Mira a un lado, luego al otro, y se señala el pecho como diciendo: «¿Es a mí?».

Dios, cómo la desea. No sabe exactamente qué hacer. Solo ha estado con otras dos chicas antes que ella y ninguna acabó siendo su «novia». En la universidad siempre bromean diciendo que está casado con sus estudios porque siempre está sin pareja. No le hace gracia, pero está esperando a alguien que realmente le guste. Ella tiene algo, y él lo quiere.

Planta las palmas sobre las baldosas mojadas y se eleva del agua para sentarse en la piedra con un movimiento grácil que sabe que destaca los músculos de sus hombros, el pecho y la clavícula. Tiene una buena sensación. Esto va a funcionar.

Ella está sentada en una tumbona. Cuando Tunde se le acerca, clava las uñas bajo la lengüeta de la lata, como si estuviera a punto de abrirla.

—Oh, no —dice, aún sonriente—. Ya sabes que estas cosas no son para gente como tú. —Agarra la Coca-Cola contra el estómago. Debe de notarse fría contra la piel. Dice con recato—: Solo quiero probar. —Se muerde el labio inferior.

Debe de hacerlo a propósito. Seguro. Está excitado. Va a pasar.

Se planta sobre ella.

—Dámela.

Enuma sujeta la lata con una mano y se la pasa por el cuello para refrescarse. Niega con la cabeza. Y él se abalanza sobre ella.

Luchan en broma. Él procura no forzarla de verdad. Está convencido de que ella disfruta tanto como él. Levanta un brazo por encima de la cabeza, sujetando la lata, para apartarla de sí. Empuja un poco más el brazo, y ella lanza un gritito y se retuerce hacia atrás. Él intenta agarrar la lata y ella se ríe, en voz baja y con suavidad. Le gusta su risa.

—Vaya, intentando privar a tu amo y señor de esa bebida —dice—. Eres una criada muy perversa.

Ella se ríe de nuevo, se retuerce más. Los pechos se elevan contra el escote de pico de su bañador.

—Nunca será tuya —dice—. ¡La defenderé con mi propia vida!

Y él piensa: «Lista y guapa, que el Señor se apiade de mi alma». Ella se ríe, y él también. Deja caer el peso del cuerpo hacia ella, la nota cálida debajo.

—¿Crees que puedes evitarlo? —Arremete de nuevo, Enuma se retuerce para escapar. La agarra por la cintura.

Ella le coge la mano.

Se nota el aroma a flor de azahar. Sopla una ráfaga de viento que arroja unos puñados de flores a la piscina.

Él nota en la mano como si le hubiera picado algún insecto. Baja la mirada para ahuyentarlo y lo único que ve es la palma cálida de Enuma.

La sensación se intensifica, de forma constante y veloz. Al principio son pinchazos en la mano y el antebrazo, luego un montón de cosquilleos con un zumbido, después dolor. Tiene la respiración demasiado acelerada para poder emitir un sonido. No puede mover el brazo izquierdo. Oye el corazón fuerte en los oídos. Nota el pecho tenso.

Ella aún suelta risitas suaves. Se inclina hacia delante y lo atrae hacia sí. Lo mira a los ojos, tiene en los iris reflejos marrones y dorados y el labio inferior húmedo. Tunde tiene miedo. Está excitado. Sabe que no podría pararla, fuera lo que fuese lo que quisiera hacer ahora. La idea es aterradora. Es electrizante. Está duro y dolorido, no sabe cuándo ha ocurrido. No siente nada en absoluto en el brazo izquierdo.

Ella se inclina, con aliento a chicle, y le da un beso tierno en los labios. Luego se aparta, sale corriendo a la piscina y se lanza al agua en un movimiento suave y estudiado.

Tunde espera a recuperar la sensibilidad en el brazo. Ella hace piscinas en silencio, sin llamarlo ni salpicarle. Él sigue excitado. Se siente avergonzado. Quiere hablarle, pero tiene miedo. A lo mejor todo han sido imaginaciones suyas. Quizá le diría de todo si le preguntara qué ha pasado.

Va andando al puesto de la esquina de la calle a comprar una naranjada helada para no tener que decirle nada. Cuando los demás vuelven de la playa, se apunta encantado a los planes de visitar a un primo lejano al día siguiente. Quiere estar distraído y no estar solo. No sabe qué ha ocurrido, ni puede comentarlo con nadie. Si se imagina contándoselo a su amigo Charles, se le hace un nudo en la garganta. Si le contara lo que ha pasado pensaría que está loco, o que es un flojo, o que miente. Piensa en la manera en que ella se rio de él.

Se sorprende buscando en el rostro de Enuma señales de lo ocurrido. ¿Qué ha sido? ¿Quería hacerlo? Tenía pensado hacerle daño o asustarle, ¿o fue solo un accidente, un acto involuntario? ¿Sabía siquiera que lo había hecho? ¿No fue ella sino un lujurioso fallo de su propio cuerpo? Todo aquello lo está carcomiendo. Ella no da señal alguna de que haya pasado nada. El último día del viaje va de la mano de otro chico.

La vergüenza se abre paso en su cuerpo como si fuera herrumbre. Recuerda compulsivamente aquella tarde. En la cama, de noche: sus labios, sus pechos contra el tejido suave, el perfil de sus pezones, la absoluta vulnerabilidad de Tunde, la sensación de que podía dominarlo si quisiera. La idea la excita, y se toca. Se dice que la excita el recuerdo de su cuerpo, el olor parecido a las flores de hibisco, pero no lo sabe con certeza. Todo está enmarañado en su cabeza: la lujuria y el poder, el deseo y el miedo.

Ta vez sea porque ha reproducido las imágenes de lo ocurrido aquella tarde tantas veces en su cabeza, porque ansía tener una prueba científica, una fotografía, un vídeo, una grabación de sonido, tal vez por eso piensa en coger el teléfono ese día en el supermercado. O quizás algunas de las cosas que han intentado enseñarle en la universidad —sobre el periodismo ciudadano, sobre «el olfato por la noticia»— han hecho mella.

Unos meses después de aquel día con Enuma, está en la tienda Goodies con su amigo Isaac. Están en el pasillo de la fruta, inspirando el dulce aroma denso a guayaba madura, atraídos por él desde el otro lado de la tienda como las moscas diminutas que se posan en la superficie de la fruta demasiado madura y abierta. Tunde e Isaac hablan de chicas, de cómo son. Tunde intenta mantener la vergüenza enterrada en lo más profundo de su cuerpo para que su amigo no adivine su secreto. Entonces, una chica que compra sola empieza a discutir con un hombre. Él tendrá unos treinta años, ella tal vez quince o dieciséis.

El hombre ha intentado ligar con ella; al principio Tunde pensó que se conocían. No se da cuenta del error hasta que ella dice: «déjame en paz». El hombre sonríe con soltura y da un paso hacia ella.

—Una chica guapa como tú merece un piropo.

Ella se inclina hacia delante, baja la mirada y respira hondo. Clava los dedos en el borde de un cajón de madera lleno de mangos. Ahí está esa sensación: le pica la piel. Tunde saca el teléfono del bolsillo y lo pone a grabar. Lo que está a punto de pasar es lo mismo que le ocurrió a él. Quiere apropiarse de ello, poder llevárselo a casa y verlo una y otra vez. Lleva pensando en eso desde aquel día con Enuma, con la esperanza de que ocurriera algo

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  • (4/5)
    What if women, starting with teen girls, suddenly developed an extraordinary electrostatic ability? How does this change gender dynamics? Politics? The whole world? With this new ability, women finally have the power to upend the patriarchy. The story follows the lives of just a handful of people in this new world: a young woman in Britain from a crime family, a young mixed-race woman in America who has been in the foster system most of her life, the mayor of a major city whose daughter shares her power with her, and a Nigerian reporter (the only male POV in the story) who travels the world documenting the political changes as they happen.The first half of the book is incredibly empowering to read as a woman. The women in this book no longer have to be afraid to walk alone at night. They can seek their own retribution. It kicks ass. Come the second half of the book, though, things take a turn for the worse. Our main characters suffer some defeats, and the world itself becomes more and more dystopic. (Of course, since the author basically just gender flipped everything, to call a world in which women are in charge and men are subjugated a dystopia, means that we also have to recognize that the real world we live in where women are subjugated, is also a dystopia. Food for thought there, for sure.)Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Some characters took some time to grow on me, and most of them surprised me in their own ways. I wish the author had included more diverse perspectives. What happens to trans people in this world? What about black women in America? Or anywhere else? What of people in Asia? There is so much more room for other stories within this world and I wish the author had taken that opportunity. Nonetheless, I think this book will appeal to readers of science fiction and feminist stories.
  • (4/5)
    Wow, this one is quite the ride and the perfect read to get out some frustrations with the ultra macho cult that is our current administration. I think the structure of the book worked remarkably well. The explanations for women's new power and the (sometimes predictable and sometimes really really unpredictable) ways in which it affected lives on the big and small scale was perfectly revealed. The characters are solid and the action scenes are exceptional. I am very interested to hear what some of my guy friends thought of this one. (Also: I recommend reading almost the whole thing during a very long travel day while you are unexpectedly stuck in an airport. Makes the whole experience a little more empowering....)
  • (3/5)
    The rating is lower than the book deserves for quality. I rate on how much I liked reading the book, and here, the book splits pretty much into two-thirds and one-third: I enjoyed most of it, and then had to push my way through to the end. I just wasn't in the right space for the grimness of the ending chapters. All that said, it held my interest, and I appreciated the framing device of Neil and Naomi's exchanges, especially at the end, where it was a good transition back from the grimness. I have quibbles about some minor points, but they weren't the focus of the story. For the right person, this will be a good book.
  • (4/5)
    A dystopian, apocalyptic novel of gender war, brought on by a newly-developed ability among females: the power to generate and project electricity from within their own bodies, and to awaken it in other women. Needless to say, there is a great deal of anger among the women of the world, and the ability to exact revenge, sometimes on any man encountered, provokes a massive backlash and a move towards catastrophic destruction wrought with today's weapons. The characters aren't particularly sympathetic, partly as a result of the storyteller's distance from the events - 5000 years into the future. But the ideas are very interesting, and having read this during the week the Kavanaugh nomination was being fought, I thought it was very timely.
  • (5/5)
    Hooooooooooly crap, y'all. This book is AMAZING. And seriously violent and triggery and, on many levels, a depressing meditation on the fact that humans are garbage. At the same time, however, it is absolutely cathartic; while it may very well trigger those who have had sexual assault and abuse experiences, I would encourage fellow survivors to read it anyway, because the process of the book creates an emotional and experiential arc that, in the end, is both horrifying and deeply, deeply satisfying. Let's be clear: this is speculative fiction that looks toward the near future and is drawn straight from today's very real gender dynamics. In the book, teenage girls and women manifest the power to produce electricity in their bodies sufficient to electrocute -- you might imagine that such power turns society on its head, and it is that upheaval that the novel follows. It's also set up a book-within-a-book, with far future citizens looking back at what would be our near future and arguing amongst themselves about what's true in their history. That very set up creates enough distance to make even the more violent scenarios of the internal story fascinating in context. A friend of mine told me that there are two camps of people who read this book: those who think it should be viewed purely as a meditation on the absolute corruption of power (which, on many levels, it definitely is) and those who finish the book with the phrase "Burn it all down" on their lips. I leave you to decide which camp you are in, but I'm telling you that you need to read this book. The very last line of the very last far-future letter puts the entire novel in perspective -- when you read it, it will hit you. Amazing. Seriously.
  • (5/5)
    Wow! Imagine a world where the women take over. Men are controlled by women and women make the decisions. No man is permitted to do anything or go anywhere without a woman's approval. That's the premise of The Power. I liked it. A lot. Roles are reversed. The thoughts and words have changed gender. Men control very little and only with the approval of women. I was so into the story I forgot that it is a story that will be a novel of the time when the world changed from men leading to women leading. The set-up to and from the novel is done through letters from the author to a friend. Since he cannot tell the history as history, he does it as a novel. It works very well this way. I forgot it was a novel and was looking at it as ...hmmm, what if?I liked how it is done by years and each year is seen from the main characters point-of-view. I liked Roxy. She's tough and a survivor. Allie started to believe her PR. So does Margot. I'm not sure whether the two of them become hinderances or return to the light. Allie's voice makes me wonder--serpent or angel. I also enjoyed Tunde and his male point-of-view of what is happening to the men and will they survive. A well done novel that will make you question your beliefs. Lots of discussion points for book clubs. I know I'm recommending it for mine.
  • (5/5)
    Absolutely though-provoking and powerful. The premise of gender-roles being reversed may not be the most original, but the way Alderman shows the transition from patriarchy to matriarchy is disturbing and does little to bolster faith in humanity. The letters that frame the story are imo the most powerful part of the story, because they ring so true to a female perspective.Speculative fiction at its best.
  • (4/5)
    I really understand why it won the Baileys award. It totally deserved. Is a great book that makes you change the perspective of what will be if women really rule the world. I like everything how is the story narrated, how it develops, how it ends, each of the characters offer a different vision of the story that let you drive into the story. This is really in my ally and I can see it becoming a movie...
  • (4/5)
    Really well-done speculative fiction, taking us into a world where women develop the power to send electrical shocks through their bodies. The power dynamics between men and women are reversed, and we see how that plays out over time. This book was challenging to read at times, because of the violence, and because it made me think. Definitely recommended!
  • (5/5)
    As might be expected from the title, this is a speculative fiction examination of power through the prism of gender. Along the way, we also look at the inhumanity of humankind. Emotionally sensitive readers should be aware that violence of all kinds is present. I adore this book. I want to read it all over again--right now. There is simply no way for me to discuss what I find so amazing about it without spoiling the effect. If you don't care about that or have read the book already, read on under the spoiler tag.One of my favorite aspects of The Power is that it doesn't buy into the pseudo-feminist idea that women are superior to men. The idea that women are innately less cruel is just the flip side of the coin that believes men can't help but rape in the face of female 'immodesty'. Both ideas are firmly rooted in the concept that men are "naturally" more violent and women are "naturally" more gentle as opposed to recognizing the relentless historical truth that people oppress other people as much as they are able. I was also pleased that while this looks at gender from a predominantly binary perspective there is a subtle acknowledgement of transphobia through a brief glimpse at the social response to those males who develop the female skein. I would have liked a bit more of that, but I suppose it might have derailed us from the primary focus of the novel. All books cannot address all things.Lastly, I'm fascinated that so many folks have classified this book as dystopian. There is definitely a speculative fiction element; however, dystopian is defined as "relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one." Generally, one expects dystopian fiction to present a world in which things are significantly worse than the current reality. Ms. Alderman has simply given the power to women and written them as wielding it precisely as many men do today. Why is this so unsettling to people that an essentially contemporary world becomes dystopian to them? Do they consider modern society dystopian? Should we?(None of that might seem like a spoiler to some folks, but Ms. Alderman slowly reveals the shift in gender roles in a way that I feel gives the novel greater impact.)
  • (5/5)
    The Power is one of the best books I have read in the last year. The premise is this. Young girls begin to discover that they have the power to transmit electrical power through their finger tips. The power spreads throughout the world with older women being able to awaken their own power. Alderman creates a very complex world around this premise. The story takes place in our time but it is written from 5000 years in the future. Told through the eyes of 4 characters that touch media, religion, politics, and crime. Gender roles begin to reverse and the conflict between the genders begin to manifest itself as a new order tries to emerge. Although the book uses women getting power as the premise, it is really about power and how it corrupts no matter which gender is in charge. Alderman raises many questions and many critics chide her for not providing solutions. This was not the role of this book. If you like thought provoking, dystopian novels then I strongly recommend this book. It should be noted that Alderman had Margaret Atwood as a mentor and her influence on this book is readily apparent.
  • (4/5)
    "The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree. Root to tip, central trunk branching and re-branching, spreading wider in ever-thinner, searching fingers. The shape of power is the outline of a living thing straining outward, sending its fine tendrils a little further, and a little further yet." - page 3Originally, the premise for this book seemed a bit outlandish. BUT page three immediately had be nodding along with the set up. I saw Alderman comparing power to the branches and roots of trees, and rivers leading to the ocean, and lightning, and was really rooting for her to make the connection to the nervous system...and she did. I've always thought that trees are like the blood vessels of the world. Trees do create oxygen, after all. The world is a beautiful coincidence (or a system of perfection). I appreciate that Alderman noticed that too. The book is set up as historical fiction, as if the writer is basing the plot from recently discovered history. Alderman speculates on what might happen if the power in the world was in the hands of women rather than men. Suddenly, young girls have the power of electricity emanating from their body at will. It causes quite a rabbit hole of a plot. The book's setup mainly follows four characters: Allie, passed through the foster system as an orphan who hears a voice called 'Mother Eve' from a young age and becomes much more than an orphan. Margot, a mayor who is rising up the ranks of government and a mom of a teenager with the power. Tunde, a college boy from Nigeria who starts traveling the world to become the chronicler of the revolution. Roxy, a young girl who first uses her power when her mom is killed because of her family's penchant for crime. All of the characters start to intertwine and I'm amazed at Alderman's skill at representing all four characters equally. And all four are equally essential to this story. The newfound power the women have quite changes their thinking, a bit too riotously. The power shifts too much and of course the men are scared. The characters are a little too man hating. I was thinking this book was just alright, but there were a couple more things I appreciated: Allie has a grand realization that should have been a Hail Mary (pun intended) for saving the world, which might have been too easy for the narrative. So I appreciated the book for that realization AND that it wasn't enough for redemption. This made the book for me.
  • (5/5)
    What can I say about this book? I know it will be very divisive--some people will love it, some will hate it. I loved it. It posits what if a power awakens in women, an innate ability to generate electric power, so that they can defend themselves and hurt other people, so that they, in just a few years, become more powerful than men? I found this book exciting, challenging, uncomfortable, sometimes horrific, and just thought-provoking on so many levels--our assumptions about gender roles, about power structures, about religion, about history and who writes it. And it's also just a really good story, with lots of characters you care about and back-stabbing and power plays and revolution.
  • (4/5)
    OK, all the criticisms of this are fair. It's rapey and it's dark and it's grim and overwrought, and the metaphors are laid on with a trowel. But I really enjoyed it. From the smart business woman trying to live a lie and hide her power, to the wild women living out in camps and hunting men, it packed a big punch with a host of flawed characters I still really cared about.
  • (4/5)
    "The power to hurt is a kind of wealth." "They do it because they can." "Power doesn't care who uses it." "That is the trouble with history. You can't see what's not there. You can look at an empty space and see that something's missing, but there's no way to know what it was." This work of speculative fiction starts with the premise that women have evolved a power, a skein that grows on their chests and gives them the tremendous power to generate and harness electrical energy. It turns out that this power is not universal among women; there are, of course, genetic variations. But the impact of this power, the power to hurt or even kill another being, on societal structures, norms, and deviations provides a world in which author Naomi Alderson can fully explore the role of power in human relations and organizations. Her novel is timely. It is also engaging and adequately complex to address the issues on the table. Spoiler alert: power corrupts, no matter who has access to it.
  • (3/5)
    I usually don't read dystopian novels. I just don't like the genre. But this title began with a hopeful premise. If women had the power to free themselves literally and figuratively. I wanted this story to be more uplifting. Sadly, women with power were no better and had no vision other than revenge and hate. The world falls into chaos. And the spiritual voice that comes to Mother Eve has no message other than the world needs to be destroyed in order to make way for a "higher" way of being. And then the spiritual voice is done and disappears. What? This book could have been so much more.
  • (4/5)
    Our country has been enriched and nourished by emigrants since the first boat load arrived in 1607. (For the indigenous tribes whose lands were being invaded and whose people were being slaughtered it was not an equally enriching experience.) But in our present political situation we don't often take the time to understand how the experience of immigration affects those who have given up their homes in the hopes of gaining a better life.Polly Guo emigrates to the US from her native Fujien, China and gives birth to her son, Deming, shortly after her arrival in Manhattan. They somehow survive in a crowded dormitory while Polly tries to pay back the loan sharks who paid her emigration expenses. Eventually they share a small apartment in the Bronx with other emigrants, also sharing child care while Polly works two jobs to keep them afloat and reducing her debt. Deming grows up as an American, attending schools, playing video games with friends and getting what he needs to grow and thrive.But, one day, while in late elementary school, Deming's Mom doesn't come home from work and after awhile the adults that he lives with have no choice but to put him up for adoption. Soon he becomes Daniel Wilkinson, the son of well-intended middle-aged professors in upstate New York. Lisa Ko is a gifted writer and her early chapters document very skillfully the struggles of this immigrant mother and son. We are alternately astonished and appalled by the dangers and the struggles of living life on the edge of a cliff, but the novel takes on an accelerated pace as we follow Daniel as he deals with this unexplained disappearance of his mother and the challenges of living with his very loving but always unfamiliar new parents.How do you cope with abandonment, your mother leaving your life in an instant? How does that play out as Daniel graduates and leaves his small town and moves back to Manhattan? And what actually happened to his mother? And ultimately who is Daniel or Deming and where does he fit in? "The Leavers" is aptly titled and ultimately a joy to read. I came away feeling that I had been allowed the privilege of entering these lives and understanding the motives, the confusions, the hurts and the intentions of so many characters, but mostly growing to understand Daniel himself. This novel was the worthy recipient of the PEN / Bellwether Prize for "socially engaged fiction". It is a very worthwhile investment of time to read the other winners of this remarkable prize as well.
  • (4/5)
    Very interesting book. At first I wasn't sure I would like ti and then it grabbed me. Very suspenseful. The twist at the end was very surprising and the then made a lot of the things happening at the end of the book even more surprising. What I liked best was how it turned all the horrible things that happen to women when men are in power to what would happen to men when women have real power. And when many women have a thirst for revenge. But the book was not satire.
  • (3/5)
    Speculative Fiction imagines other worlds, other timelines, and The Power does this in an interesting fashion, focusing on the notion of where Power comes from, who has traditionally wielded it, and how. The central dynamic of the novel involves an evolutionary twist in which a new internal organ (a "skein") gives women a devastating power and, essentially, control of the world. Of course, it's not quite that simple, and the ending suggests a never ending loop in terms of gender roles and relations, rather than a final outcome (be it apocalyptic or utopian). (Brian)
  • (4/5)
    The basic premise is that teenage girls develop an organ which discharges electricity like an electric eel, and they learn to use it and wield it as a weapon. They are also able to "wake up" the organ in adult women. So, you may ask, now that women have "the power," what do they do with it? The book follows 4 main protagonists into this dystopian world, and tells the story from each one's point of view. This book really forces the reader to think about the patriarchal society and gender differences. What would change if things were suddenly reversed? Would society be better? How would individual lives change? What would oppression look like if experienced by those who are privileged by their gender today? Lots to think and talk about in this book, but I took it as a cautionary tale.
  • (3/5)
    Imagine a world in which women develop a skein that allows them to deliver powerful electrical shocks - so powerful, in fact, that they can easily kill. Only women have this ability except for some men who somehow are able to grow a skein, but they are viewed as "freaks" and "abnormal" by others; also, there is a surgical method to remove the skeins from women and implant them into men, with many risks and the world completely changes because of it. It upends societies, particularly those that are extremely patriarchal, and wars break out, etc, etc. I had a hard time deciding on a rating for this book. I wasn't blown away by it in any sense of the phrase; I honestly found it to be just an "okay" read. I never felt particularly engaged in the story, even though, in theory, I found the premise of the book interesting. I think a lot of this was due to the fact that there were multiple narrators, some more interesting than others (I really didn't care for Margot or Jocelyn, and I felt like their chapters were SO LONG), and large swaths of time separate these chapters (most are at least a year, with some separated by multiple years). It didn't really give me a great feel for the characters, to be honest; the one I found most interesting was Tunde, who traveled the world to document what was happening in various places.The author posits that a world run by women with this power would be just as awful for men as real-life patriarchal societies are for women, since people are just people and power corrupts all it touches. Some of the scenarios seemed pretty far-fetched to me, though. And seeing UrbanDox, who is a pretty smarmy, far-right extremist champion of "men's rights," being the one to get the truth of what was happening out there (not that many believed him, from the sound of it).But I suppose my main complaint here is: how in the heck does the author not have ONE lesbian character in this book? There is one character, Jocelyn, who mentions, almost as an aside, that she likes girls and she likes guys with the skein - but when it comes time to date, she dates a boy, not a girl. I was really curious how such a relationship in this world would work; the author has women fighting one another (apparently the power also causes them to be more aggressive), but no mention of women loving one another. It's as if lesbianism doesn't exist at all in this world. All of the described sexual contact is strictly between men and women. There's also very little friendship or camaraderie for the female characters in this book; only two seem to have a strong friendship (Mother Eve and Roxy); the rest seem content to live in some sort of bubble where there are few fulfilling relationships (Margot does love her daughters, though) or friendships. Altogether, I found this book to be disappointing, especially since it was hyped as being like The Handmaid's Tale. Well, it isn't.
  • (4/5)
    Reading the first few chapters of The Power I knew I was going to love it. Teenage girls begin having electricity coming out of their hands and it flips the world upside down. The girls learn to control, how to share it, how to protect themselves, how to hurt people with it, they learn what it means to have power. The story follows 4 characters, one is a teenage girl who become a religious icon, one is a woman who is a politician with a teenage daughter, another is a man who becomes a journalist documenting the change, and the last one is a girl who is part of a gangster family in England. The book is counting down to the Day of the Girls, each section time moves forward and more changes are noticed. With women basically becoming the rulers of the world, it still echos somewhat of modern society but the roles are reversed. I loved the build up, but I felt the actual Day of the Girls moment was confusing and needed to be elaborated on. I absolutely loved the epilogue part of the book.
  • (3/5)
    Listen to the audio version!I was expecting more from this book, considering all the accolades and hype it has earned. I found the first 18% confusing, until I was fortunate enough to come across the audiobook, narrated by Adjoa Andoh and that was a huge improvement. Adjoa's Nigerian, London and Russian accents made such a difference to my enjoyment of the book and may have even raised my star rating from 2 to 3 stars.The premise of the book was strong, that women suddenly developed a skein across their shoulders that generated electrical power and gave them a significant edge over men. The descriptions of this organ twitching and twisting, and the resultant surge of power, were excellent. The characterisations were also strong, boosted by Adjoa's narration.Some of the violence was a bit lurid for my taste and the use of the 'f' word was offensively excessive. 'f' this, 'f' that, not even any variety of swear word, maybe valid in some cases but totally overused.The inserts describing museum artifacts were well read in the audio version, by a male narrator, but I couldn't picture the items he was describing and so these parts were frustrating; apparently these were illustrations in the book. I was also unsure through most of the book, whether the action was taking place 5,000 years ago, or whether it was in current time - or maybe it happened in current time and was being recorded 5,000 years hence. That may have been a failure on my part, I shall have more idea once my book club discusses it tomorrow.The ending was a bit weird in my opinion, I felt I'd been left hanging a bit.Maybe I will edit my review after tomorrow's discussion, but I wanted to get my opinions down before others voiced theirs.Edited 22/03/18:My book group had an excellent discussion on this book, although, sadly we were missing the most vocal feminists! This is certainly a book that benefits from discussion and I'd wholly recommend it as a book group choice.
  • (2/5)
    For some reason I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. It is a good premise though.
  • (3/5)
    This was so promising at the start, I love the idea of women being weaponized - overnight becoming undeniably powerful - and the effect on the culture of that 180 shift. I like thinking about what women would do with that power. I don't think women are inherently better than men, and I don't think we would necessarily do better with power than men do, but I do think an industrialized matriarchal society might differ from the patriarchy in interesting and unexpected ways, and I get why Alderman wanted to explore that idea.Sadly, that promising start devolved into a muddy mess of cliches designed to let Alderman vent her various frustrations with the world. I share most if not all of those frustrations. I get it, I really do. But while I am happy Alderman had her catharsis, in the end the book sort of spun off into the universe for me. I will do my best to explain why, but I found the last half of the book so disjointed I am not sure I can do this well.There has been a lot of talk about men writing good female characters and whether that is possible. It is of course, and it has been done incredibly well by many: Tolstoy, Colm Toibin and Kazuo Ishiguro spring to mind. The same is true of women writing male characters, it can be done, but Alderman doesn't do it. These men are as undeveloped as women usually are in books penned by men. They are either hostile or sycophantic, they are completely driven by their dicks, and they are secretly afraid of women. (Tunde is an exception, but that is mostly because he only exists to communicate a world view, so he doesn't really feel anything about what he sees other than excitement if it is a good story.) If Alderman did this as a device, a send up of the way women are written, I get that, but it weakened the story a great deal.In addition to not writing men well, I don't think Alderman writes Americans well. Given the current political and social situation in the states I get that it might seem that we are all idiots. We are not. In The Power we are all insane, hate-mongerers, and/or people desperate to feel comfortable at the cost of being who we are. All those archetypes exist in America, but so do many others (that third category is probably a majority, but the others are vocal minorities.) The issue with this for the book was that two of the characters whom Alderman hung the book on, Allie and Margot feel entirely false to me. Margot attacking women really rankled -- in these days of Tammy Duckworth and Kirsten Gillibrand and Heidi Heitkamp the message that women progress in political life by sacrificing other women is untrue and anti-woman. The Allie childhood trauma thing felt like the most shopworn of tropes. It is hard to think about "what ifs" if the characters are not people you can hang an alternative story on. This was particularly jarring with the American characters, but the end of this book in Bessaparra was nearly as clunky. Speaking of things spinning of in baffling directions, suddenly we are in the Heart of Darkness and everyone is Captain Kurtz. This kind of state sponsored murderous rapey hootenanny is not happening now when men are in power. Is there a reason Alderman thinks it would happen if women ruled? Why suddenly would swarms of people want to live a 24-hour live action snuff film? I am no Pollyanna, but I sure as hell don't see this as a likely outcome.And speaking of that, I found myself thinking about the old saw that women write about family and men write about war, and wondering whether subverting that that was Alderman's guiding star for much of this book. I think men don't often write about family because it is not seen as their province, not because it is not important to them. When you excise real connection (of the family sort) from a story it loses its heart. The best books written by men about war (Slaughterhouse Five, Johnny Got His Gun, The Things they Carried, War & Peace. The Naked and the Dead, etc.) still have familial-type relations, they are just among soldiers rather than blood relatives. Why this seems more manly I don't know, but it apparently provides a context for men to feel comfortable showing men being tender. That bonded relationship piece was missing after the first 75 pages or so of The Power, and there was no meaningful bonding in the war portions of the narrative. IMO it fully hollowed out the story.There are so many interesting ideas here, including but not limited to whether gender difference impacts the ways we wield and cling to power, but for me the second half of the book did not deliver on the promise of the first half. I went from desperately wanting to find out what happened next to having a vague interest in what happened, but not really caring much which ways things were going to go.
  • (5/5)
    It happens slowly, and then all at once. A few girls, in the throes of late puberty, develop a power. An electricity. They can awaken the power in other women, and soon it is everywhere. At first the men laugh it off, then soon the structure of the world is turned upside-down. But this is still our world (for now, at least) and men who feel entitled to power over women are not going to give it up without a fight.This book is presented, kind of like World War Z, as a history book depicting a science-fictional version of our own time, from a viewpoint in the future. The women in this book are allowed to be as varied and complicated as men. Some are manipulative, and some are manipulated. They are U.S. Senators, and cult leaders, and mobsters, and warlords. My favorite thing about the book was the interplay between the ways the world changes completely and the ways it stays exactly the same. It's fascinating. The viewpoint of Tunde, a male Nigerian journalist traveling the world to document countries where women are rising up, is a straight-forward gender swap. Meanwhile, the viewpoint of Roxy, a tough young woman raised in a mostly-male London organized crime family, is essentially unchanged from what you might expect in our world. This book is very well-thought out and completely unique, and I will be remembering it for a long, long time. Highly recommended, although be warned that some parts are very graphic - from too-familiar misogynist screeds in the dark parts of the internet (plausibly just copy-pasted from the real world) to unusual depictions of men being raped by women, like Game of Thrones gone topsy-turvy.
  • (5/5)
    Aside from taking a brief break to eat supper, I read this clean through in a sitting; I just couldn't bring myself to stop. It is a brilliant book, reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale (in that it is framed as a historical narrative set many years in the past). Alderman's story is a dark and troubling one, but it sure makes for a page-turning and provocative read.
  • (4/5)
    This is a bit of speculative fiction, dystopic, apocalyptic that also is a bit of horror. In this award winning story by Alderman. Things are reversed. Women suddenly have the Power and with that power they can be cruel. The story is framed by some letters between a Naomi and a Neil who are writing to each other about their writings. The book uses some unique styling with these letters, some crude sketches of an ancient civilizations and the actual story is the book written by Neil. It is a work of feminism but it left a sour taste for me. I did not like these women and their abusiveness. I didn't much care for any of the characters until the end and then I kind of liked two of them. The devices did not lend themselves well to the story, the characters were too many and perhaps less with more character development might have been helpful. The book was not readable to me in that I could put it down and avoid going back to it. Otherwise it is easy enough to read and one should be able to 'power' through it. Achievement-won the Bailey's Women's Prize in 2017. Read for book club February 2018.
  • (4/5)
    Visceral in places and quite hard to read.
  • (4/5)
    This is a very clever book. It's not the first novel to shine a light on the state of today's world by using a 'what if...?' scenario, but The Power does it more effectively than many other books working along these lines. The most powerful moment is definitely in the 'present day's correspondence that bookends the main story, but I really enjoyed the main story too. I liked that there were perspectives from both men and women, although I would maybe liked to have seen more from the point of view of a woman not in agreement with the way things pan out. I'll definitely look up Naomi Alderman's other works after reading this!