Hello Nerd Cacti Friends, and welcome to the final Boozy Books of 2017!
We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus due to C’s exciting romp through NYC, my recent obsessive attempts to sketch out my latest project, and, oh yeah, the holidays. BUT, I think Nerd Cactus HQ has been silent long enough! (Plus, I just finished reading a book I simply couldn’t put down, and I think a pairing is in order.)
So, without further ado, let me jump right in and say that Naomi Alderman’s The Power is the kind of sci-fi-lite concept piece that has the potential to soar or sink. Happily, I loved it. It flips every gender expectation on its head, challenges the validity of organized religion, and gives us a cast of strong, female leads that are out to change the world.
The plot is this: a power is beginning to emerge worldwide (as a result of evolution), and only women have it. This power involves shooting and controlling self-created electricity, a power that inevitably allows the “weaker sex” to become the dominant gender.
As usual, I will avoid spoilers, skip over the synopsis, and give you a little sense of my overall takeaway.
Let me start by saying that this novel is bookended by a series of letters that don’t make any sense at first, but the payoff is perfection. The book itself is written in chapters that follow individual characters whose stories intertwine here and there, but ultimately work together to create a well-rounded sense of the “pre-Cataclysm” world. Interestingly, (though perhaps not so in the context of what Alderman is clearly trying to draw attention to) there is only one “main” male character. Later on, we do get a glimpse of a secondary male figure, but the placement of men in this story successfully highlights the way most women are portrayed as minor characters in film, literature, and art. It’s really quite genius.
Also, – trigger warning for my #metoo friends out there – there is a rape scene. As Alderman shifts power to the women in her story, we see the degradation and fall of what is considered “manly,” culminating in our main male character being overtaken by a woman. It is a deeply disturbing scene, but the reversal of gender expectations and struggles that really takes off at this point in the narrative is what makes this story such an absorbing read.
I’ll tell you, I had no trouble imagining Alderman’s reality. Should every woman in the world wake up with this power tomorrow, I believe we’d face the same changes, challenges, and violence.
Ok, pairing time. This book calls for something strong. Preferably something that’ll make your throat burn, but also make you feel like you could take on the world. So, let’s go with a shot of fireball with an Angry Orchard chaser. I know some people out there may want to put their shot into their cider, but I’m telling you this book requires a shot.