Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor


Onyesonwu is an Ewu child. Ewu are almost always the result of an Okeke woman being raped by a Nuru man. Onyesonwu is also a girl. Girls are considered lesser and are not expected to be able to control magic. And yet, Onyesonwu grows up tall, strong in body, spirit and magic. And it is her destiny to free the the Okeke from slavery and genocide at the hands of the Nuru.


If I had things my way, I never would have put this book down. Throughout the reading, I knew the book would be at least a four. When I read the ending, I had to push it to a five.

Onyesonwu is an incredibly strong female lead. She has so many prejudicial obstacles thrown at her, but rather than let them drag her down, she makes her own voice stronger. She does not follow the narrative norms of her world's Great Book. She is the lead while her male companion, Mwita, has the lesser magic. She is the loud warrior, he is the quiet healer.

Okorafor touches on so many topics in this book: war, racism, rape, and the ignorance of the people removed from these things. It was ignorance that led to so much of the hate in this book. An unwillingness to see another's perspective, or an acceptance of things, "because they are tradition." Even when the people of her home village are confronted with images of the war, the Elders say not to worry, it'll never reach the village. And the ignorance continues.

But Onyesonwu does not care for ignorance. As Okorafor states, "Onyesonwu's very essence was change and defiance." The ending of this book left me shaky and feeling as though I'd shed a hundred tears, though my eyes were dry. This book is not for everyone and can get quite graphic, but I give it a full 5 hoots and will be looking for more books by Okorafor.


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