Author: Naomi Alderman
My Rating: 4.25/5 🌟
“A world run by men would be fire kind, more gentle, more loving and naturally nurturing.”
Firstly, I loved the premise of this book. It was so amazing to read a novel that had a Handmaids like plot without women being harmed and gave women back the power. It was set over roughly ten years following many different characters POV including both male and female of different ages.
Suddenly teenage girls have the power, and on top of this the ability to give the power to all women. Women have developed the ability to produce electricity and are able to use it for pain or pleasure and no one is able to stop them. In this book we are taken into a world where women are on top and in charge and the thought of male officer or armies are even considered laughable. I appreciated the aspects taken and switched to suit the plot from things that actually occurred in history such as men having to have a woman as their guardian and the inability to own land. All in all I hadn’t read a book that took gender roles in this way and it was an interesting and enjoyable read.
Spoilers (Mentions Rape)
—————————————————————————————————————————————–This section I’m going to split up into character discussion because I don’t remember the precise order of the book despite finishing it yesterday…
I loved this character, there were a couple of things she did that I didn’t quite believe in but she was so powerful and really used her terrible background to start a powerful organisation. Allie was raised in foster homes and we start her story off with her killing her Adoptive father whilst he is in the middle of raping her by electrocuting him with her powers which originate from this thing called a Skein which is present around the collarbones of women. With the help of a voice she hears in her head she finds her self running away from home at 16 and ends up at a convent full of girls thrown out of home for having these strange powers.
She soon becomes the boss of the convent driving the non-believer nuns out and is now in charge of all of these young impressionable girls. This turns into the first of many new churches worshipping a God who is seen as a woman and is sick of men ruining the world. The churches spread and Allie (Who is now going by the title “Mother Eve’) is going global via youtube clips of her speaking about their new organisation. I’m not one to get that into religion but I had to appreciate how cunning Allie/ Eve was in manipulating all those people. I would’ve liked more on her, I felt like her whole storyline was about the church and we never really got to see more of her actual personality or get an explanation to what the voice in her head actually was. I found myself wanting more of her chapters and less of other peoples but near the end of the book her chapters became more of her plus Roxy or her plus the Queen which wasn’t quite as good as just her.
To be perfectly honest I really was not a massive fan of Tunde as a character. Some of the chapters were entertaining but I just did to feel connected at all with him. I liked that we got a male perspective during the time where the power dynamics were changing. HE was very arrogant so it was nice to see him get shocked when he suddenly lost all his power. I grew to like him more as the book went on as he grew as a person and became more mature. He still thought a lot of himself and saw himself as better than a lot of people when really the decisions he was making were extremely dangerous and stupid.
Tunde, is a journalist who got famous because he published a video of girls performing ‘magic’ during the first out breaks of the power. He then went on to work for CNN which caused him to travel to get news stories and also ended up with him crossing paths with all the other characters at various point throughout the book including a sexual relationship with Roxy which I wasn’t a massive fan of because it was in the middle of war and also his collarbone was broken so it didn’t really make sense for him to be doing that. All in all could have done with less chapters from him.
I continue to have mixed feelings about Roxy. She seems to be powerful while also have extreme child like qualities. She can’t hold her temper, acts impulsively but at the same time manages to run an illegal drug trade. She has a challenging life starting from when she is a young child and see her mother murdered which she later finds out was set up by her father. Her dad and brother then go on to remove her skein and transplant it into her brother so that he may have to power to rule the family business instead of her. This however does not end to well for the brother, when Roxy’s loyal workers find out was has occurred they mutilate him by tearing one limb off at a time while he’s still alive. While she’s overseas she runs into Tunde and does her best to protect him as she is valued for her name whilst he is in danger due to his sex.
Again would prefer more of her background and upbringing rather than the majority of her chapters being mostly about Allie.
Jo’s and Margot
These two had a cute mother and daughter relationship and I loved all of their chapters and could have done with far more. Margot was in a high position in the government and was running for mayor during the main course of this book and Jo’s is her teenage daughter who struggles to control her power.
We follow Margot through her goal of becoming mayor against her sexist candidate who believes that any woman with the power should not be able to work in certain jobs such as government or with children. Margot, who’s power is woken by Jo’s, has to keep the fact that she has the ability a secret right up until she is attacked about her parenting choices in front of a live audience. She ends up being discovered which actually allows her to win and become the Mayor. She then uses her new job to insure that facilities are set up in order to teach young girls how to use their new gift so they don’t struggle like her daughter did.
Jo’s perspective is more about learning how the power works and how diverse it can be. She has always struggled with how to use her power ranging from having too much to non at all. She also ends up dating a boy who has a skein which causes more issues and leads her to breaking down. She ends up being part of the military out of one of the facilities her mom built and getting seriously injured in a battle between her and Roxy’s brother who has a stolen skein implanted in him. At the end we are told she is alive but not much else.
Naomi and Neil
Lastly Neil is the author of the book we are reading and at the beginning and end of the novel we see an interaction between him and what we presume is his editor Naomi and notes about the book. The novel is based thousands of years in the past and the time in which Naomi and Neil live the thought of males being in charge is laughable and has no really proof of existing. The interactions between these two are quite funny and thought provoking with my favourite being the last line of the book said by Naomi, “Neil, I know this might be very distasteful to you, but have you considered publishing this book under a woman’s name?” which I absolutely love.
Would definitely recommend giving it a read.