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[personal profile] rogin
Now that I have finished the book, I thought I'd attempt a non-spoilery review, since I enjoyed the book immensely.

The premise of the book is that present day teenage girls develop a new organ, called skein, that enables them generate electrostatic pulses, strong enough to kill people. The pulses can be used to inflict pain, to stun and also to arouse people in mild doses. The girls can enable the power also in older women and within a few months almost every woman on the planet has it. So the tables start to turn. Women are now the physically stronger sex and depending on the different cultures, this brings great upheavals. In societies, where women are massively oppressed, violent revolutions unfold, while the changes in modern democracies are more subtle but no less pronounced.

The books frame narrative is set in a 5000 year from now matriarchal society, where a man tries to sell the book as history of the shift from patriarchal to matriarchal society to his (female) editor. She is amused but highly sceptic about the idea that there ever might have been a non matriarchal society and rehearses the arguments about the nature of the genders that we hear so often, only turned around.

The book itself is essentially told from four perspectives. There is Roxy, the daughter of a London crime lord, who witnesses her mother getting murdered and after developing her powers rises in her fathers syndicate.
Then there is Allie, an abused orphan girl, who murders her rapist foster father and goes on to become a cultleader of gynocentric christian cult. She is a very interesting figure, because she is a pretty awesome mix of con-artist and actual believer. Her rise in power seems to be a pretty credible idea of what happened around the prophets that founded the monotheist religions. This is the first book I read by Naomi Alderman, but apparently she has also written a book, that protrays Jesus as a sort of con artist. I figure Allie is another spin on a similar idea.
Then there is Margot, a US politician, a bit reminiscent of Hillary Clinton.
And finally there is Tunde, a venturous nigerian reporter, who makes it his goal to document all the upheavals around the globe. In the beginning he is quite attracted to the newly powerful women and travels to hotspots around the planet that are increasingly unsave.

It's certainly a book you want to argue with, but in a good way. Does pure physical power really make such a difference? Can menatlity change overnight if the power balance is tipped? The book also constantly questions itself, which is remarkable since the basic premise "the strong ones call the shots" is so blunt. Even though it is clearly a feminist novel, it violently rejects the idea that women are somehow better people but portrays the typical gender stereotypes purely as a consequence of power distribution. There are several aspects that in my mind do not get enough screen time, but what is there is pretty amazing.


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