The Power Summary
The Power is a science fiction novel about a world where women use a mysterious electric power to oppress men. The use of frame narrative, artifacts, and documents suggest that the story that unfolds is a futuristic work of historical fiction.
- Roxy is the first girl to use "the power" when she harnesses an electric force to shock a man attacking her mother.
- Tunde, a journalist, documents the global turmoil as women revolt against their patriarchal societies and Bessapara, a matriarchal state, is created.
- Allie, a young girl who used the power to kill her abusive foster father, flees from home. She adopts the name Mother Eve and comes to power as the leader of a female-centric religious moment that spreads across the world.
Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The Power is a science fiction novel concerned with what would happen if women were provided a means to be physically dominant over men. Naomi Alderman includes elements of metafiction in the text; for example, the book begins with a letter from a writer, Naomi, to the supposed author of the story that follows—a novelization of the history of how women gained “the power,” the ability to shoot electricity from their hands by means of a specialized muscle called a “skein.” Naomi’s letter praises the text and ultimately recommends that the author, Neil Adam Armon, publish the book under a woman’s name to gain credibility. Each major section of the book is also prefaced with an archaeological drawing and description of a tool used during the time the novel takes place. This works to frame the novel as a piece of historical fiction from the far future.
The novel’s action follows four main characters. Roxy, a young woman, becomes the first person in the world to experience the use of the power, when she shocks a home intruder in an attempt to save her mother’s life. Her mother is killed, however, and she goes to her father, a mobster, to seek revenge on her mother’s murderer. Upon learning of her new ability, her father hires her as a member of the mob and she strives to become more powerful.
Tunde, a twenty-one-year-old Nigerian man, is the first person to capture the use of the power on video. When his video becomes famous, he begins a career in freelance journalism and travels around the world to report on women-led uprisings in male-dominated countries. Tunde gains the acceptance of many of the women in the uprisings and is able to capture footage that no one else can. He also obtains interviews with men involved in counterrevolutionary movements.
Allie begins the novel as a troubled girl who lives with very religious foster parents. Her foster father sexually abuses her as punishment when she misbehaves—until Allie uses the power to kill him. Later, she becomes a nun, adopts the name “Mother Eve,” and leads a religious movement centered on the claim that the evidence for a women-led society has biblical origins. By this point, Allie has learned to control the power in an exceptional manner; while Roxy (who becomes Allie’s confidant) appears to be the strongest woman when it comes to using the power, Allie is the most skilled at wielding it and can cause an individual's nervous system to perform complex movements.
Margot is the mayor of an American city and has been frequently overlooked by her male counterparts. After gaining access to the power, she delights in causing moments of pain to male politicians and seeing the same fear in their eyes that she used to feel. After attaining a higher political office, she founds the NorthStar camps, which teach girls to effectively wield the power. These camps become quasi-military academies.
When Tatiana Moskalev uses the power to kill her husband, the president of Moldova, and take over the country, the characters travel to Moldova to celebrate the rise of female governance. Allie, Margot, and Roxy even work with Tatiana to fight an attempt by a man named Awadi-Atif to overthrow the new monarchy, but Allie and Roxy are disgusted when it becomes clear that the women in charge are just as violent, abusive, and sadistic as the men were before Tatiana’s coup. This ultimately leads Allie to kill Tatiana and take her position. Meanwhile, Roxy has her power source removed and begins a relationship with Tunde. To maintain women’s control, Allie incites global warfare, and the novel ends on the precipice of a nuclear war which Roxy and Allie believe will usher in a better, female-dominated world.