Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

(EDIT: Afro-futurism alert! Yay!)

For some reason, it took me over a month to finish this book. It wasn’t that the story wasn’t good, or that I found it boring, really. I was into it while I was reading it, but it was easy to put down. Which disappointed me because I have had this book on my “to-read” list for at least a year, so I was happy to finally get around to reading it. That may have more to do with me being busy with other things. But, I did finally read it, and I did finally finish it. So just note that this review will seem a bit disjointed.

This is the story of a young woman who discovers that she has “mystical” powers, and in order to save her people (the world, maybe?) she must go on a quest to find her biological father and kill him. It takes her a while to get to this point, as she is learning what her gifts are, and how to control and use them. She has a group of friends and a love interest. On top of being different because of her gifts, she is also different because she is a child of rape. Children of rape are “cursed” basically, and are ostracized. If that weren’t bad enough, she looks physically different from the rest of her people. She is “cursed” because of that as well. You really feel for her because everything about her is the epitome of what is hated in her culture. Her love interest is also a child of rape, yet he was raised in a community where they were more accepting of his gifts. Yet, he has his own failures to contend with. The overall idea for the story may not be unique in the fantasy genre, where young hero and her merry band of friends head out on a quest to stop evil. However, the backdrop for the story is what made this book so interesting.

This is not the typical medieval setting, with swords and sorcery. This is set in a modern or near future world, in Africa, or a place similar to Africa, where the majority are people of color. It is based on African cultures and languages. It definitely feels different. (I realize that I am generalizing by saying “African”, but I do not know which specific cultures are being used as references, so I am going with the more general term “African”. My point being that this is not set in a white dominated European like setting.) There is plenty of “magic”, but the magic feels very organic to the story. The magic comes from within the person, and is not based on spells or incantations. It flowed very nicely, and made sense within the world. There is definitely modern technology, but it lives alongside the magical elements very well. It has some of the other traditional fantasy elements- there’s a prophecy, a chosen one, and a sacrifice.

I haven’t given much plot description because in this case, you need to be able to follow the story and discover what’s happening along with the protagonist yourself.

Note to the squeamish, here. I am going spoil little bit, but there is female circumsission discussions and scenes in this book, so be prepared. It is not particularly graphic, but is very descriptive.

Overall, I do recommend this book. Although, as I said in the beginning, I had trouble with reading it consistently, but I would still highly recommend

Lilypad Rating: LilyPadLilyPadLilyPad out of 5



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