Everybody does it; toddlers, teens, CEO’s, women, and men. Everyone daydreams what they would do if they had more of it—power.
While fantasies are entertaining, rarely do they resemble reality when we’re faced with something life-changing.
Alderman’s book clutches hold of the fantasy, sears it to a crisp, and leaves us with a wretched, awful truth.
Before beginning to read, you know the author’s going to lead you through an alternate reality where the male/female power axis is flipped.
Alderman cleverly addresses reader expectations when, in pre-story correspondence, she says, “I think I’d rather enjoy this “world run by men” you’ve been talking about. Surely a kinder, more caring and—dare I say it?—more sexy world than the one we live in.”
From religious leaders modifying culture to government officials justifying actions, Alderman increases the voltage on the eclectic chair she builds for you.
We grow uncomfortable with Tunde, a college-age investigator, as he follows breaking stories. His anxiety and PTSD symptoms worsen as he publishes insider news reports and comes to understand ‘it’s never going to be alright.’
Alderman’s story makes you feel the axiom, “If power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The emotional load is lightened with skillful wordcraft and interdimensional storytelling; illustrations, chapter titles, the correspondence, and curiosity about an unseen character.
Toward the end, the invisible one says, “I don’t know where you all think you get off labeling humans with simple words and thinking you know everything you need… It’s more complicated than that, sugar. However complicated it is, everything is always more complicated than that.”
Great job, Naomi, shaking it up!
5 out of 5 Amazon | Goodreads stars
If you liked this review and you plan to read the book, you may also like Haylee. She’s also a dangerous handed woman. Haylee’s involved in a personal struggle with power and must solve the ‘why’ of her unusual affliction before it makes her destroy everyone she loves.
Have you ever looked at a tree and seen a monster? When I was five, I was terrorized by thinking that the giant sequoia I was about to drive through would bend over to snatch me from the back seat.
As an adult, in the middle of a windy night, I was awoken by a sound like a gunshot. My car was totaled when the walnut tree I’d parked under snapped. (The insurance did not cover an ‘act of God.’) A decade or so later, I cleaned-up shattered window glass after an arborist removed a cedar tree that was growing too close to the house. While I appreciate the daily benefits of breathing, I recognize the hazards trees can cause when things go wrong.
For me, the car totaling experience resolved the age-old philosophical question about the sound a tree makes (or doesn’t make) when it falls in the woods. The same debates about the nature of reality and how it relates to experience can be applied to monsters.
Are there really extra large, hair-covered, humanoids hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Does a diabetic older man enter your house each year with the intent to delight your children? (It’s OK! He’s not a stranger, he knows what they’ve been thinking.)
Monsters are grown inside an electrically charged, submerged, gelatin-like structure that everyone carries inside their skull. This magnificent organ has evolved to specialize in pattern recognition. When we see or experience something that doesn’t make sense or for which we have no prior information, our brains concoct stories that seem real and make sense.
Addiction, accidents, rejection, unrealistic expectations, loss, grief and the fear of disappearing
are a few of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that breathe life into our own personal monsters.
Because we are social creatures, our monsters can spread like a virus. Screaming fire in a crowded amphitheater or a run on the market because a rumor predicted a crash are examples of monsters gone viral.
Monsters are as adaptable. as we are. Before we understood the stages of decomposition, we thought evil spirits inhabited dead bodies, causing them to move. Every time we drop our kids off at school, we hope that a gunman doesn’t lose his marbles anywhere in the neighborhood. We worry that refugees and immigrants are taking our jobs.
With easy access to a world of information and a bit of discernment, monsters can be vaporized. Yet, instead of doing the work to accomplish this, many of us cozy up to them, inviting them to tea, and letting them share our pillow at night.
Monsters are with us to stay. Many of them are portrayed as hideous and frightful, while others are beguiling. All of them signal some kind of danger and remind us to be alert.
With certainty, we know that tomorrow’s monster will be different from today’s.
Below is a variety of contemporary and classic monster representations and lists of themes they exemplify.