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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Turning The Tables On The Patriarchy

The Power - Naomi Alderman

Witty, provocative and disturbing, Naomi Alderman’s dystopian vision of a future in which a mutation in the human DNA means that women now possess the ability to generate electric shocks feels a bit like Margaret Atwood meets John Wyndham. It’s a page-turner but it’s also an acutely intelligent examination of attitudes towards the patriarchy and assumptions about gender.


Eschewing naïve idealism, Alderman shines the spotlight on power itself, the way it inevitably lends itself to abuse, the unthinking way that people fall into line behind that abuse, and the pointlessness of the transaction. Everyone against whom power is used is defined and trapped by it but so is everyone who enjoys power.


In a narrative that somehow manages to be highly entertaining she highlights, through the simple but effective trick of role reversal, the terrible ways in which male power has been and, still is, used against women. But she’s  too keenly aware of human nature and too good a writer to be optimistic about a world in which the tables are turned. This is an important novel and one that deserves to be read widely.