Teenage girls all over the world are finding electric power within themselves. Soon, this power is being awoken in women all over the world, regardless of age. Women begin to take positions of power in the church, the government and criminal organizations. Slowly, but surely, the power of the world begins to switch.
I have been wanting to read and review this novel since November. Unfortunately, other deadlines and books keep taking precedence. Since I saw this book and bought it at Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, it's been in the back of my mind, gnawing at me. It reminded me of a class I took in my undergraduate career, Feminist Dystopian Literature. We studies feminist novels that showed readers the pros and cons a matriarchal society.
The novel focuses on four main story lines that often intersect. Allison is a foster child to an abusive Christian family. After she discovers her power, she takes over a convent and becomes the leader of a new religion, taking on the name Mother Eve. Roxy's father is a notorious British crime boss. When her mother is murdered in front of her, she takes revenge and rises up the ranks. Tunde, a male journalist who sides with the women, records and reports on all the uprisings in the Eastern countries, bringing the revolution to the younger generation. Margot is a politician, whose daughter is deeply affected by the power, and works her way through the government to protect and help her.
The structure of this novel is so interesting. The book begins with a series of letters between Neil and Naomi, debating Neil's novel about the controversial possibility of a patriarchal past and the events that brought on the world they live in, one where women are in charge and the male author should consider "publishing under a women's name" so his book will be successful. The tension built from the zigzag style of the novel really build me along. The entire time, I'm watching for how the world at the beginning of the story, which is identical to our own, will transform into it's mirror.
One of the major critiques I heard of this novel was that it's offensive to write a novel about women who overpower and abuse men. Don't get me wrong, it's painful to read this book at many points. We seem women abuse their power, manipulating men, beating men, raping men. The book slowly but surely transitions from an urban fantasy novel to a political commentary. The point of this novel is to show these discrepancies that exist in our society. It's a difficult reading, but it's important to read.
This is not a novel for the feint of heart, but it's a book every man and woman should read. Naomi Alderman's novel is a heartbreaking and beautiful commentary on the world we live in, showing through metaphor and role reversal, the dangerous dichotomy of patriarchy and how easy it would be to fall into the same trap in a matriarchy.