Monday, December 13, 2010

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Set in post-apocalyptic Africa, this is the story of a girl named Onyesonwu, meaning "Who Fears Death," who grows up to become a powerful sorceress. There are two tribes. Onyesonwu is Ewu, which means mixed-race; blood of both tribes. Sandy-skinned and biracial, Ewus are shunned by both tribes. Yet she does not let it hold her back, and she meets another person just like herself; Mwita, another Ewu.

She is destined to go on a quest to end the genocide of her people. While doing so, she also exacts revenge for her mother, having been raped by the enemy tribe's general, who is Onyesonwu's biological father.  She does a lot of growing up before the book is over, and shows that she truly does not fear death.

The cover of Who Fears Death is the first thing that caught my attention. It is composed of warm colors that stand out, and the figure with the ethereal wings is intriguing. It's definitely a neat cover.

The next thing I noticed was that it had a quote from Patrick Rothfuss on the back:

"Nnedi Okorafor's got the cure for what ails you. Her books are fresh, original, and smart. We need more writers like her."

So then, enticed, I read the first chapter, and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable the prose was. It's the kind of writing I like.

The weightiness of some of the subject matter - rape, violence, and female circumcision - are the only things that are intimidating about it. So the book is definitely not for everyone.

However, I really enjoyed it! There is a lot to like about this book:

  • The writing style. It's really very succinctly written. Short sentences always make it easier for me to read. (If this is what Pat's talking about in his blurb, then I concur.)
  • The magic. It's really cool that she can turn into a bird. There are other surprises as well!
  • It's in first person, which I like.
  • The characters. There is a lot to like about them. They don't overshadow Onye, but they are important. Without them, she would go on her journey alone. With that said, they don't seem bound to her either.
Highly recommended!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am reading this right now for a graduate English class; I surprisingly am liking it because I usually hate fantasy, but this genre is somewhat different. any suggestions on a "stance" I should take to give a seminar on the book? I was thinking feminism and irony.