Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death

Book - 2010
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Born into post-apocalyptic Africa to a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.
Publisher: New York : Daw Books, Inc., [2010]
ISBN: 9780756406172
075640617X
Branch Call Number: PS3615.K67 W56 2010
Characteristics: 386 p. ; 24 cm.

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KateHillier Jul 27, 2017

Once this gets made, assuming this gets made well, we are in for one heck of a TV show. This book is fantastic. It's immersive, imaginative, brutal, and beautiful. Onye, our lead character, is a child of rape and her and her mother live as nomads in the desert until they reach a town where they may be able to have a normalish life. That's not Onye's fate and her fate is to be a force to be reckoned with. She has magical powers, she's going to change the world, and she has to fight tooth and nail with friends and foes to get an inch of respect. She makes mistakes, for sure. She's headstrong, angry, and that has its own consequences.

This is truly fantastic. Seriously. I didn't know all that much about it when I started reading it and I'm trying to give you that same experience by being a little vague. Give it a try, you won't regret it.

s
shayshortt
Sep 15, 2016

Onyesonwu is the child of rape, and this is only the first of many brutal and violent events that are recounted in great detail in the opening of pages of Who Fears Death. For anyone who might struggle with reading about rape and female genital cutting, this book and this review may not be for you. A variety of violent deaths are also graphically depicted, including more than one woman being killed by stoning, and another woman who is torn limb from limb by an angry mob. The violence is generally motivated by either the race or gender of the victim(s) and often by both. While the graphic depictions let up somewhat in the later part of the book, I honestly struggled to continue reading after making it through the first hundred pages. It took me two weeks to get through the book, though I put it down for a week in the middle. Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2016/09/15/who-fears-death/

Haunting. There are some amazing friendships between women here, with all their ups and downs. Onyesonwu herself was realistically flawed - her blind spots actually led her to make catastrophic errors, which was occasionally frustrating but ultimately made her deeply compelling as a protagonist. I also loved how Okorafor rendered the complexity of being in a romantic relationship with someone who both gets you like no one else does, yet is also deeply prejudiced about what you can be or accomplish because of your gender.

m
mlynxqualey
Feb 27, 2016

I am a book critic & review for a living, so I need "guilty pleasure" reads to keep me sane.

Thus far, this is hands-down my favorite guilty-pleasure read of 2016. Nnedi comes out of the YA world and it's evident in her tight plotting and accessible writing, but I also never felt she was talking down to me.

Delight & enjoyment.

t
traceofbase
Sep 27, 2015

Moderately graphic at times, I had to skim or even skip sections, but I absolutely adore the breadth of issues addressed by this story. No conclusive answers or solutions, but so much to talk and think about: racism, genocide, religion, rape, incest, power dynamics in relationships, friendship, sexuality, fgm, prostitution, fate, and of course death and what comes after. All this in a beautifully written piece of dystopian futuristic fantasy. I did knock a star off because I feel the ending was rushed and some character deaths were not as emotional as they should have been due to how they were written.

r
rixonkarla
Jul 28, 2012

I always look forward to reading a new book by Okorafor, and this one was not a disappointment. Fans of creative, original story telling should definitely check this one out.

r
Rilelen
Apr 28, 2012

VERY different, refreshing take - it was fascinating to see a "fantasy" novel based on African traditions instead of the European ones of elves/witches/etc that most of the genre is based on. The first third of the book was absolutely mesmerizing. I don't know why, but lots of books like this with a strong sense of place and culture seem to encounter issues in the second half of the novels - I think part of it may be the need to speed up events and skip from "day-to-day" narration to summaries of weeks and years to get to the author's end destination.

i
Incarnadine
Feb 14, 2012

Multiple award-winner, and my favorite of Nnedi Okorafor's novels!
The review says "this is dystopian fantasy at its very best" and I couldn't agree more; it is an amazing, sometimes heartbreaking, book! A young sorceress is largely rejected by her people, but must take on an impossible task to avenge the great wrong done to her mother and protect her former community. Great characters; such a wonderful story! For older teens and adults. Trigger warning for sexual assault and violence.

s
sexygecko
Feb 03, 2012

Very interesting book. I couldn't put it down, but once I finished the book I was vaguely unsettled. I guess, that's the mark of a good story - this book defnitely doesn't follow the typical "heroine triumphs in the end" archetype (or does it?), and that's what makes it so thought provoking, beautiful, and unsettling.

Age

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mlynxqualey
Feb 27, 2016

mlynxqualey thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

b
Birkbm
Jan 08, 2016

Birkbm thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

r
Rilelen
Apr 28, 2012

Rilelen thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

i
Incarnadine
Feb 14, 2012

Incarnadine thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

r
rachelleme
Apr 24, 2011

rachelleme thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Notices

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shayshortt
Sep 15, 2016

Sexual Content: Graphic depictions of rape

s
shayshortt
Sep 15, 2016

Violence: Including sexual violence, genocide, and stoning. Depictions of female genital cutting.

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shayshortt
Sep 15, 2016

Humiliation and confusion were the staples of my childhood. Is it a wonder that anger was never far behind?

s
shayshortt
Sep 15, 2016

Humiliation and confusion were the staples of my childhood. Is it a wonder that anger was never far behind?

Summary

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shayshortt
Sep 15, 2016

Onyesonwu is Ewu, a child born of the violence that the Nuru have long visited upon the Okeke people they have enslaved in post-apocalyptic Sudan. Nuru and Okeke alike regard her as an abomination, but she is protected by her determined mother, and her highly respected adoptive father. Her magical talents begin to manifest early, setting her even further apart from her Okeke peers in the village of Jwahir. But things begin to change when she meets Mwita, an Ewu boy with connections to the village sorcerer, Aro, who has never agreed to take a woman as his student. Her untrained power ties her to a larger destiny, one will impact the future of Nuru and Okeke alike.

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