GoodReads Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okurafor

(Lately, I’ve been posting more and more of my book reviews on Bookreads. I like the site and the social network feel of it, and if I just want to post something short, or nothing at all, I can still rate the book. I’ll still post longer reviews here at the Café though, starting with the one I did of Nnedi Okurafor’s Who Fears Death.)

It’s been several days since I read this book and I’m still thinking about it. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow…

"Who Fears Death" is amazing. Nnedi had me hooked from page one. It deals with some heavy issues from the get go–children born from brutal rapes, female circumcision, genocide, child soldiers–but it’s not graphic. Onyesonwu has to deal with all that and learn how to control her magic before her natural father kills her. But in spite of all those heavy issues, Onyesonwu keeps persisting for truth and calling attention to the injustice of her people.

I liked how Onye had to deal with consequences of magic, like coughing up feathers when she changed into a bird. I liked how Nnedi doesn’t provide easy answers: Onye is strongly against female circumsion, but her friend sees it as protection against her father sexually molesting her. I like how the characters are willing to change. One of the more powerful scenes is a person cursing Onye for something horrific she’s done–then the next night coming to her, talking to her, agreeing to listen why she did what she did, and ultimately forgiving her. Reconciliation is a strong theme in this book.

And I deeply love the relationship between Onye and her friends. They bicker. They make up. They avoid each other. They confront each other. They slap each other. They defend each other. They have sex with each other. Well, I take that back. Sex does play a role in this book, but while there’s plenty of sexual escapades among Onye’s friends, they respect the bond between Onye and her soulmate, another Ewu. But the lengths Onye’s friends go to in order for her to learn magic is amazing and humbling. In a way, Onye and her friends acted immature when it came to relationships; but the circumstances they were in helped balance it out and made them grow. The ending was devastating to me–but in a good way. It had me thinking about it for a long time.

I gave this book as a gift to my grandmother without reading it first. Now I wish I didn’t–I would’ve held on to it with both hands and feet. This book ranks 5 vultures out of 5, and leave it to Nnedi to have me not think of the vulture as a creepy bird anymore.

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One Response

  1. […] LawShawn, “GoodReads Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor,” at The Cafe in the… […]

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