I've just finished The Power by Naomi Alderman, having read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood immediately before. These two books are now so often mentioned in the same breath, with The Power being called 2017's answer to The Handmaid's Tale (it came out last year) so I wanted to read them together and compare. Handmaid is about a world where women are devoid of all control and influence and The Power is about a world where they hold all the cards, but it challenges the opinion that a world run by women would be fairer and kinder than one run by men. One is relentlessly bleak (but brilliant!) and left me feeling pretty scared and hopeless, and the other wraps it's dark messages with fizzling wit, energy and black humour.
I'm not sure which I preferred yet, or which will stay with me longer. I think each is fabulous at holding a mirror up to society as it is today (even Atwood's book, which is 25+ years old is still staggeringly current) but in very different ways. I feel like Handmaid is perhaps more scary to me because it feels like it could be real, and I didn't quite buy into the actual electrical powers the women had in Alderman's book, which makes the danger less personal and imminent. I did love the social commentary in The Power, however, and thought it was done in such a smart and entertaining way that it would perhaps have broader appeal. Roxy was brilliant!
Which did you prefer and why? Do you feel the comparisons are fair? I would love to know your thoughts!
I had to DNF The Handmaid's Tale when I tried reading it a few years ago as it was just soooooooo depressing and I found the writing a bit heavy for my taste. I did like the TV adaptation that was on recently, though. Obviously it's no more cheerful than the book but it somehow made it more bearable! I guess I didn't have to worry about the writing style. I thought The Power was AWESOME, however. That the actual 'powers' aren't realistic didn't bother me and I thought it was written with a great sense of humour about the gender issues. I loved how the story had the imaginary letters at the beginning and the end, and you could just hear how patronising 'Naomi' was to the man (was his name Neil? I can't remember!) especially when she said it was a good story but if he wanted it to sell he should consider using a woman's name! I really liked that it swapped between all the persepectives too because that kept me turning the pages as I wanted to get back to the people to know what was happening to them quickly. I do wonder whether everyone will still be talking about it in 25 years time though like they are with The Handmaid's Tale because it had some contemporary references that may date it (Primark!?) Time will tell!
I read The Handmaids Tale and it gave me nightmares! I liked it because I thought it was well written and a really hard hitting story but I didn't love and I wouldn't want to read it again it because it did make me so uncomfortable, especially the bits when Offred was remembering what happened to her family and how they were separated. I find stuff like that really hard to read. I would have liked it if maybe she got to see her daughter in person not just a photo, but I guess in the context of this book that would hardly be light relief. The Power is on my TBR. I bought it already just haven't got around to reading! Everyone I've heard who has read it says it is good :)
@Lydia I was holding off watching the TV series but I'm going to try and find it now I've read the book. I think I heard there is going to be a series 2, though not sure how that would work. I'm happy to hear you liked The Power. The letters were a neat trick, weren't they? I liked that it flipped POV too but there were certainly some people I prefered more than others. I wasn't too bothered about reading Margot compared to Roxy or the journalist. it's an interesting question about whether it will have longivity. It feels very of the moment, now. My gut says Handmaid is more transcendent, but what do I know!?
@Sarah I adored the writing in Handmaid's Tale. Love love loved it. That was the overall strength of the book in my mind and I certainly want to read more Atwood now. Have you read any of her other books? All recommendations of where to start welcome! I have only read The Blind Assassin by her, that I can remember. I found the family stuff hard too, especially the missing kid. I'm a mess when it comes to missing kids! Let me know if you get to The Power. I'd love to know your thoughts.