“One of them says, ‘Why did they do it?’
And the other answers, ‘Because they could.’
That is the only answer there ever is.”
I am sure you’re well aware of this novel. It was one of the biggest releases of 2016 and went on to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It was a book everyone talked about and it was highly acclaimed by critics and readers alike. I’ve been meaning to pick it up ever since it blew up, mostly because I always enjoy a feminist take on dystopia. I was not disappointed.
In this novel, Alderman explores a not so distant feature, in which all women start gaining the ability to electrocute, thus creating a reality in which women are now physically stronger. The story follows a couple of different characters in the aftermath of this change that transforms the whole world.
This is a different take on feminism dystopia than I was expecting and it’s different to anything I have read before. And that was what I liked the most about this. Alderman manages to do something that most books fail at (for example, my recent read – The Surface Breaks) – she brings nuance. Her storytelling is really clever and she uses this reality in which women become the leading gender to showcase that the world is not much different when women overtake the world. Power corrupts. The world she creates mirrors our own. Some devastating things happen, war happens and we see a world that is not so strange, that looks a lot like the world today.
But in doing so, Alderman manages to make a point about gender roles and how ridiculous they are and how they inherently don’t make sense. She abolishes gender by creating an alternate reality, but she doesn’t do it in an obvious or expected way. I really appreciated how intelligent her approach to this was and it really made this book stand out to me.
I really enjoyed the writing. Alderman writes concisely, but in a very intelligent way. She manages to create a story that flows in a nice rhythm, slowly, but it’s never boring and it never stalls. Plus, she really knows how to construct an impactful sentence, one that lingers and makes you think and I always love books like that.
Moreover, Alderman trusts her readers. She doesn’t spell out everything to you, she lets the reader make their own conclusions and doesn’t spoon feed her ideas and beliefs to everyone who reads her book. I genuinely appreciated that.
I found the characters to be really interesting. Alderman’s characters aren’t as developed as I like them, they aren’t really those characters you can adore (which is why this book did not get a higher rating from me), but they are still really interesting. While I generally hate when the author just uses the characters to drive a plot forward, I didn’t mind that that happened here. Because that wasn’t the characters sole purpose. They had grounding on their own and I was really interested to see how each of their individual stories panned out.
I would recommend this one wholeheartedly. It’s well written and really intelligent, and one of those books that makes you think about it long after you finished it. Definitely check this one out.
Final verdict: 4 stars
I would love to hear from you! Have you read this one yet? Do you plan to pick it up? Do you generally enjoy these kinds of books? Let me know!
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