Book Review: Who Fears Death by Okorafor Nnedi (Five Stars)

Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Five Stars

“I was … one who used what she had to do what she had to do, and so I did.”

A wonderfully complex, non-linear tale of redemption and finding one’s self. Okorafor proves that rich, engaging fantasy can spring from most any cultural root; in fact, it will if we don’t let our preconceived notions stifle our imagination. A refreshing change from all those Tolkien-clone fantasies with Medieval European-analog settings.

“Just because we are all hurting doesn’t mean others should.”

A bright story of self-discovery and self-sacrifice painted against the somber darkness of genocide. While the story hints of a Darfur analog, the divisions could be/are just as easily geography, gender, race and ethnicity. Okorafor argues against the dichotomies which divide us so many ways.

“What makes sense is no longer necessarily what should be.”

Recalling Arthur C. Clark’s famous dictum about technology seeming like magic, Okorafor forces us to consider that any added dimension–say the spiritual–will transform the previous dimensions in a way looking magical to one who only sees the lesser number of dimensions. (See also C. S. Lewis on “Transposition.”)

“What is written can be rewritten.”

A minor criticism: the dialogue and storytelling sounds jarringly modern, urban and American. I don’t know Okorafor’s background; I intentionally did not research it. You’re getting my naïve reaction to her story as she tells it, rather than “facts” from the blurbs or Wikipedia.

“When we were finished [crying], all we could do was continue living.”

A good book. I liked it even better than her award-winning Binti, which I also liked. This is why we save our five star ratings.

“Life was out there and death was too. I feared them both now.”

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Who Fears Death by Okorafor Nnedi (Five Stars)

    • It didn’t grab me like some stories do, but grew on me.

      The machine in the foreground is a steam-powered tractor, of course, which provides power to the thresher in the background. Modern machines combine the cutting, gleaning and threshing, hence their common name: combines.

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