The Power, Naomi Alderman, 2016

 Alderman, a young British novelist, has written a powerful, dystopian novel that is unsettling and disturbing.  Selected as one of the Top Ten books of 2017 by the New York Times, the book takes the form of a novel by Neill 5000 years in the future.  It is bounded by an exchange of letters between Neill and Naomi discussing whether the book is too radical in its view that men in the past were capable of violence.  The book itself describes the lead up to The Cataclysm, a world war in which much of the population is destroyed leading to a matriarchal society in which women are the dominant group, violent, and war-like and capable of subduing men due to their skein, an evolutionary organ that provides them with the ability to send electricity from their hands.  The book is disturbingly violent and unremittingly despairing as religion, politics, education, and other social institutions breakdown and violent deeds are perpetrated on innocents because ‘they can be’.  A bleak view of human nature, but one which I, unfortunately, share.  Conscience, fear of punishment, and social mores backed up by the law are the only things that stand between us and the jungle.  Getting more worried every day!