The Power (Alderman novel)

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For the novel by Frank M. Robinson, see The Power (Robinson novel). For the self-help book, see The Power (self-help book).
The Power
AuthorNaomi Alderman
IllustratorMarsh Davies
CountryGreat Britain
GenreScience fiction
Publication date
Pages400 pp

The Power is a 2016 science fiction novel by the British writer Naomi Alderman.[1] Its central premise is women developing the ability to release electrical jolts from their fingers,[2] thus leading them to become the dominant gender.[3]

In June 2017, The Power won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.[4][5] The book was also named by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2017.[6] In December 2017, former U.S. President Barack Obama named The Power as one of his favorite books of 2017.[7]


The Power is a book within a book: a manuscript of an imagined history of the tumultuous era during which women across the world developed and shared the power to emit electricity from their hands. The manuscript is submitted by Neil Adam Armon to another author named Naomi, approximately five thousand years after the power emerges and revolution reassembles the world into a matriarchy. This historical fiction chronicles the experiences of Allie, Roxy, Margot, Jocelyn, and Tunde, as they navigate their rapidly changing world.

Main characters[edit]

  • Allie Montgomery-Taylor is young girl who uses her power to kill her abusive foster father. She retreats to a convent where she becomes a religious figure named Mother Eve.
  • Roxy Monke is the young daughter of a London mob boss and is a witness to her mother's murder. She meets with Mother Eve at the convent to seek help in strengthening her powers and ends up becoming Mother Eve's confidante.
  • Margot Cleary is an American politician and advocate for training young girls on how to properly use their power. She creates the North Star Girls Camps across the country as part of her advocacy.
  • Jocelyn Cleary is the daughter of Margot Cleary and experiences power fluctuations. Despite her difficulties, Jocelyn is able to awaken her mother's power.
  • Olatunde Edo (known as Tunde Edo) is a journalist who documents the growing power of women across the globe. He first gains recognition by posting one of the first videos of women using their power online.
  • Tatiana Moskalev is the former first lady of Moldova. After killing her husband, she takes over the role of president and reconstitutes Moldova as a matriarchal country called Bessapara.
  • Neil Adam Armon is the fictional author of The Power and a member of The Men's Writers Association. Neil reaches out to Naomi through letters to discuss her thoughts on his book. (The name is an anagram of Naomi Alderman).

Development history[edit]

The Power is Alderman's fourth novel and was influenced by her relationship with Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood. The mentorship was arranged through the Rolex mentorship program. In an interview with The Telegraph in 2012, Alderman explained the influence of Atwood's work on her as a novelist before the mentorship as, "I’d been to an Orthodox Jewish primary school where every morning the boys said, ‘Thank you God for not making me a woman.’ If you put that together with The Handmaid's Tale in your head, something will eventually go fizz! Boom!"[8] In another interview for The Guardian regarding The Power, Alderman described being inspired by Atwood, saying, "The one thing Margaret directly suggested was the idea of a convent."[1] Within the novel, the setting of the convent plays a crucial role during the development of the power of women.

Literary significance and reception[edit]

The book, backed up by critics’ reviews and awards, was broadly regarded as significant work of literature. The Washington Post reviewer Ron Charles praised the novel as "one of those essential feminist works that terrifies and illuminates, enrages and encourages."[9]

The Power was the winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2017.[10] The novel was also featured fourth in The 10 Best Books of 2017 list by The New York Times.[11] The Guardian’s deputy literary editor Justine Jordan praised the book by stating "it's also endlessly nuanced and thought-provoking, combining elegantly efficient prose with beautiful meditations on the metaphysics of power, possibility and change."[12]

There were some who criticized the novel. The New York Times Book Review contributor Amal El-Mohtar criticized the book for worldbuilding and philosophical inconsistencies.[13]


In December 2016, Alderman confessed that "readers of The Power are already asking me if there'll be a sequel – there won't be another novel (probably), but there are definitely so many more stories to tell than I had room for in the book."[14]


The novel is set to be turned into a television series, after the TV rights to Naomi Alderman's work were acquired by Jane Featherstone in an 11-way auction.[15] Upon this acquisition, Alderman said that "I can't wait to expand this story – and bring electric women to TV screens around the world."[14] Along with being the series' writer, Alderman will also be a producer.[16] The series intends to portray the characters' storylines from the book, while also exploring the characters' lives beyond the established narrative.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Armitstead, Claire (28 October 2016). "Naomi Alderman: 'I went into the novel religious and by the end I wasn't. I wrote myself out of it'". Interview The Guardian.
  2. ^ Jordan, Justine (2 November 2016). "The Power by Naomi Alderman review – if girls ruled the world". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Steele, Francesca (15 October 2016). "The Power by Naomi Alderman". The Times.
  4. ^ Kean, Danuta, "Baileys prize goes to 'classic of the future' by Naomi Alderman", The Guardian, 7 June 2017.
  5. ^ Masters, Tim, "Baileys Prize: Naomi Alderman wins for 'shocking' sci-fi novel The Power", BBC News, 7 June 2017.
  6. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2017". The New York Times. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Here's Barack Obama's Favorite Books and Music of 2017". Time. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Margaret Atwood Mentors Naomi Alderman". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  9. ^ Charles, Ron. "'The Power' is our era's 'Handmaid's Tale'". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ "The 2017 Baileys Prize Winner is Revealed…". Women's Prize for Fiction 2018. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  11. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2017". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  12. ^ Jordan, Justine. "The Power by Naomi Alderman review – if girls ruled the world". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  13. ^ El-Mohtar, Amal. "A Novelist Asks, What if Women's Bodies Became Deadly Weapons?". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b "Alderman's 'The Power' to be TV series | The Bookseller". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  15. ^ "SciFi 4 Ever". Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Sister Pictures options The Power". Sister Pictures. Retrieved 8 February 2018.