Well, as a palate cleanser to Joe Abercrombie, I picked the least patriarchal novel possible and then some.
First off, this book should come with heavy content warnings. There are graphic depictions of violence, murder, sexual assault and rape. Especially the latter two took the book down a notch for me, but more about that later.
The book has an interesting framing story. It's a manuscript of a male historian called Neil, to his friend Naomi. He's referencing lots of old archaeological finds, and has woven a story around it to explain things. We then get to read the story, and see some of the artwork. In the framing mail conversations it's clear it's not our world, gender roles reversed.
The story itself is set in our time, and teenage girls have started to gain a power that grows in their collarbones, electrical jolts. They can use this power to wake it in older women too. We experience this change in the balance of power from several PoVs. There's Allie, unwanted orphan, disciplined and sexually assaulted by foster parents. She uses the power to grow her own religious cult. There's Margot, a mayor in an unnamed American metropolitan area, who gains the power through her daughter, and uses it to rise in political power. There's Roxy, daughter of a mobster, stronger than all other women, creating drugs to make the Power even stronger. And last we have Tunde, a young man from Nigeria who travels the world to document the changes this brings.
I think generally Tunde has the strongest chapters. He's the most sympathetic character, and where he goes, you feel the change. He starts off in Saudi-Arabia where women rise up together, and destroy and explode all the cars that they were not allowed to drive. Imagine if women in Iran had such a power? Terrifying, but powerful stuff. Tunde travels to India where equally women rise up, and torture those who had power over them before.
Over the span of a few years, roles reverse, men become sexualized objects that women in power show off, leer at and humiliate.
So much for the good part. The plot itself here is paper-thin, and none of the characters but Tunde strong enough to carry it. Eventually, Allie aka Eve and Margot both come to the conclusion that the world needs a reset, and the artwork that is shown speaks of a Cataclysmic Era 5000 years ago. So by the end we can assume there was a nation-destroying war that we don't get to witness that leads to society as it is now between Neil and Naomi, clearly matriarchal. In condescending tone, she recommends that if he wants people to consider reading his book, he should consider picking a female pen-name.
The framing story and the premise were tremendous, and I devoured this book. However, the paper-thin plot of the main story and the seriously tremendous amount of sexual violence makes this a 3.5 stars for me. Especially near the end of the story, there was such a lengthy scene of a rape that it felt utterly gratuitous, unfortunately.