BOOK REVIEW: Naomi Alderman's THE POWER & Lidia Yuknavitch's THE BOOK OF JOAN


Electromagnetic women rule!

What does one sex endure when the other is physically—lethally—stronger? Naomi Alderman’s THE POWER (Little, Brown, 2016) makes it stunningly clear when she gives women the power of lightning at their fingertips. In a world where women are the ones who can kill men with their bare hands, do they create a global society of love and peace? Is the matriarchy all milk and honey? Mmmmwwwahahaha! Alderman has written a frightening, rage-driven, satirical sci-fi thriller that even the great Margaret Atwood appropriately deems “Shocking!” Imagine women with the inborn physical strength to subdue a man’s body, to render a man’s body inert, to see a man’s body as lesser, subservient, subhuman. What?! Who could imagine such a disturbing dystopia? Ha. Ha. In this book, the physical strength to dominate translates directly into the power to rule. The reversal is a jolting revelation, making this a must-read in the year of #metoo. Winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for fiction, THE POWER deserves broader attention and accolades.

In Lidia Yuknavitch's THE BOOK OF JOAN (Harper, 2017), Joan of Arc is reinvented as an earthy, supernatural soldier bearing the power to create or destroy at her fingertips. In fact, she's much like a young Mother Nature imbued with weaponized lightning. This marvelous, electromagnetic Joan is slated to save or destroy the earth, which has been recently devastated by global warming and men. The novel is a spectacular linguistic performance, an ingeniously inventive, literary skin show that rightly takes pleasure in its own pages burning with poetry. The sexless porn is as cringe-worthy as beautiful misfit love, and the ending of this already wild, anti-patriarchal tale is so bizarre and ballsy you may black out from all the G's you’ll pull trying to follow the whiplash of a plot twist. Yet no dive into post-apocalyptic sci-fi can resist the rise of this girl-god. A 2017 New York Times Notable Book, what awards will THE BOOK OF JOAN win?