Top-notch feminist dystopian science fiction.
This deeply thought-provoking read will have you questioning the meaning of gender, its relationship to power, and everything you thought you knew about human nature. Alderman doesn't just deconstruct familiar gender stereotypes, but reconstructs them by flipping the script and exposing the cognitive biases that colour the way we perceive gender. This is a must read for psychology or sociology buffs, or for anyone who enjoys questioning their own assumptions and thinking about the way they think.
I'll give fair warning that this book contains some pretty disturbing scenes and darker moments that may not be for everyone. It's impossible to fully examine the topics of power, gender, and human nature without also examining the nature of violence, which Alderman potrays vividly.
Although I love this book, I do, however, have a couple of gripes about representation. While significant parts of the story are set in the east, Alderman's perspective is unmistakably western, and the geopolitical aspects of the book are lacking in nuance. I also would've liked to see more exploration of LGBT themes than Alderman offered. In a book chiefly about power and gender, it would have been interesting and illuminating to read about a transgender or non-binary character's experience of the societal shift in Alderman's world.
Despite the above missed opportunities, Alderman's prose is masterful, and the language she chooses serves to weave her themes throughout every aspect of the narrative. The pacing is gripping enough that I couldn't put it down, and the subject matter heavy enough that I frequently found myself pausing mid-page to reflect.
I tried to avoid the redundancy of calling The Power "powerful," but that's what it is. It'll leave a lasting impression on you, and I expect it'll spark rich discussion for a long time to come.