Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What I Read: The Power

I first heard of The Power thanks to the half-dozen book bloggers I follow. A while ago, I started using GoodReads' "to-read" function as a storehouse for all of the books I heard about that sounded really cool but that I would otherwise forget after a couple days, and dumped The Power in there. Then the universe aligned: a book club buddy picked The Power off my GoodReads TBR to send to me in a New Year's book club exchange, and then my feminist science fiction club decided on it for February's book.

(Fun fact: today is the birthday one of the founding members of said feminist science fiction book club! Good job getting older, my dude!)
Image courtesy Penguin

The Power posits that if you give women the ability to produce electricity out of nowhere, thereby making them all walking weapons, within less than a decade you'll see an entire global culture shift. That's really the point that the book turns on, and how much you enjoy the book is probably based on how much you buy into Alderman's thesis. Less central to the story is that it's pure power (hah, hah) that drives sexual objectification and sexual entitlement. Still, if you disagree with Alderman's implied stance on this, there will be moments of characterization that fall flat for you.

Speaking of characterization, this is another book with an ensemble cast, a total of five major perspective characters (plus asides here and there). I'm not entirely convinced that all of those characters were entirely necessary to the story. And while Alderman included a graceful nod to the complexities of biological sex with how inconsistently the physiological source of the power manifests (i.e. some men have semi-developed skeins, and some women don't have skeins as developed as other women), the absence of any trans characters or an examination of what this development would mean for them is notable.

Despite these small bumps, the important thing about The Power is that it's just damn good hard(ish) sci-fi. I'm a perpetual Slowpoke about reading the new hot thing in books (unless the stars align and I get an early crack it at it thanks to NetGalley), so I suspect most of my readers (hi, Mom) will have already read this if they were going to read it at all, but nonetheless I want my opinion to go on the record: this is good.

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