The Power

Winner of the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in the U.K., Naomi Alderman's (The Liars' Gospel) sci-fi thriller The Power asks how humanity's oldest balance of power would shift if women suddenly had strength beyond that of men.

After the Day of the Girls, the world is never the same again. Video online shows teenage girls delivering electrical shocks with their bare hands that can leave a grown man crying in agony. Soon the isolated incidents become widespread as young women all over the globe discover the power of the skein, an extra organ that lies along the collarbones and discharges electricity. The power awakens in girls everywhere. Soon governments and families must accept that the power is the new reality. Over the coming years, it will change religions, borders and the order of human society.

Ostensibly the manuscript of a historical novel by a far-future male author, the story is bookended by letters between the humble writer and his condescending female editor, who calls him "you saucy boy" and patronizes the quaint idea of a patriarchal society as "a kinder, more caring and--dare I say it?--more sexy world."

Alderman has built a suspenseful thrill ride filled with deep, contrasting female leads on a scaffolding of philosophical questions about how different men and women are at heart. Reminiscent of the work of Alderman's mentor Margaret Atwood, The Power is perfect for book clubs, where readers will undoubtedly debate the finer points of nature versus nurture and whether a power shift can reverse a lifetime of socialization in middle-aged women. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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