The Power, by Naomi Alderman

I’ve finished listening to the audiobook of The Power, narrated by Adjoa Andoh. I could write thousands of words about how she’s one of my favourite actors and narrators, one of the most exciting British creative voices working today, but I’ll just say she’s phenomenal and leave it at that.

I enjoyed The Power. Overnight, every fifteen-year-old girl on Earth develops the ability to send an electrical charge from her fingertips, generated in an electrical organ on her collarbone (the ‘skein.’) As the power spreads, and grows, the world order is upended. Rape culture is inverted. It’s a difficult read (or listen) at times, as the violence (some of it sexual violence) intensifies and plumbs ever murkier depths.

There were things I wish it explored more. There’s no real discussion of what happens to trans women or trans men. That said, we do see get to see a few men with a skein, including one intersex character (whom the book clumsily describes as having ‘abnormalities’ in his chromosomes.)

At times, The Power feels like a well-researched historical novel. This is intentional, and the framing device (I won’t spoil it) is supremely clever. The final passage is phenomenal, and ties up the novel as a masterwork of satire. This is a truly ambitious novel: as social commentary, as science fiction, as imagined future history, and as side-splittingly, piercingly, joltingly funny satire.