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The Shadow Speaker

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  772 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
The year is 2070, and civilization has been completely transformed following a nuclear fallout in the early twenty-first century. Magic, mysticism, and mind-blowing technology now rule the world.

In West Africa, fourteen-year-old Ejii struggles to master her own magical powers. Embarking on a journey across the Sahara to find her father's murderer, Ejii discovers that her p
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Jump at the Sun / Hyperion Books (first published October 2nd 2007)
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Nov 27, 2009 Pinky rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Abigail, Brad, Ceridwen, jo, Mme T
How friggin' scary--a talking shadow!

Perfect for Halloween! Can't wait to read this!
Aug 16, 2008 Nnedi rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people young and old who enjoy a good story
Recommended to Nnedi by: me
Absolutely wonderful. :-D
This book was not good. I got to the end and remembered that Ursula Le Guin had given it a glowing blurb, and wondered what the hell she had been thinking. Then I flipped the book over and found that the glowing blurb was this possible back-handed compliment:

"There's more vivid imagination in a page of THE SHADOW SPEAKER than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics. -- Ursula K. Le Guin"

So true, and so entirely the problem with this book.

The Shadow Speaker takes place in a future Africa afte
duck reads
Mar 07, 2014 duck reads rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wc, coc-ic, ww, woc-iw, sff, fiction
I am so torn over this book. It's a post-apocalyptic dystopian future fantasy set in West Africa, starring a teen girl with magic powers who goes on a quest with a really kickass warrior queen, the queen's two husbands, another teen with magic powers, and some talking animals. It should have been SO GOOD. It really set out to be, too. The protagonist, Ejii, is very likable, and though her magic is possibly too immediately powerful to be satisfying, she does struggle with it and with her newfound ...more
Apr 09, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever wished upon a star
This book is AWESOME!!! When I first read the back of the book I kinda thought it was going to be like another book I read called Obernewtyn because both of them are set in worlds that have "magical powers" because of an old war. This book is reeeeally different from Obernewtyn but is still reeeeeally good! It actually reminded me of another book called The Blue Sword. I think thats because I loved that book and the character went on a life changing journey that helped her develope and save the ...more
It is 2070, and life on Earth has been completely changed after a disastrous nuclear fallout earlier in the century: now in addition to technology, there is magic, and there are magical gateways to another world, Ginen (the world of Zahrah the Windseeker). Certain people have become metahuman, with strange abilities like rainmaking, or speaking to shadows, as Ejii Ugabe is able to do. When Ejii was eight, she witnessed the execution (or perhaps murder) of her power-seeking father by Jaa the Red ...more
Sheila Ruth
Nov 10, 2007 Sheila Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Shadow Speaker is a richly imagined coming of age story with a theme of empowerment. The book's biggest strength is the characters: author Okorafor-Mbachu breathes life into a fascinating cast of characters. The portrayal of future Niger is interesting, combining highly imaginative world-building with elements of modern Niger projected into the future. However, the imaginative elements were occasionally a little too bizarre for my tastes, and the reasons for the changes weren't always well-e ...more
I really loved this. It's an earlier work from Okorafor, and isn't as detailed or well-plotted as Akata Witch and the magnificent Who Fears Death, but it's a great read. Okorafor imbues what could have been a very dark story with a sense of wonder and joy at discovery; I wanted to spend much more time in the worlds she describes.
Karen Healey
I am not crazy in love with the style of this book; it's a little simplistic for my taste. Which isn't a criticism as such - it's good, solid writing, just not the kind of thing I swoon for. (More critically: I think also that the pacing's off, and while I like the characters, I found it difficult to reach empathy with many of them).

However, I am head over heels for the ideas. There's so much excellent world-building and flat-out awesome GOSH in this book.
Nicholas Gourlay
Jun 02, 2009 Nicholas Gourlay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young teens and fans of the fantastical.
Shelves: fiction, ya
I thoroughly enjoyed this highly imaginative coming of age tale about Ejimafor Ugabe, Dikéogu, and five seperate worlds. This story had a wonderful 'feel' to it that makes me want to recommend it to almost everyone.
Ralowe Ampu
"like final fantasy in africa." i have a perhaps unreasonable amount of anxiety around sci-fi works set on the continent of africa which causes me to flinch around reducing history (yes, even and especially because hegel says africa is outside of history) there to some plugin chronotope in a "like final fantasy in ___" formulation. even though that formulation sounds really cool. i will not make light of the beauty and invention in this novel, and i haven't had time enough with the conventions o ...more
Guy Gonzalez
Aug 11, 2011 Guy Gonzalez rated it it was amazing
In The Shadow Speaker, Nnedi Okorafor spins a wildly imaginative, entertaining and nicely balanced coming of age tale unabashedly set in a fantastical Africa of the near-future where alternate worlds have collided and the threat of war looms on the horizon.

Okorafor's impressive world-building alone is noteworthy enough, but her nuanced characters are what really makes the story work, and its star, 14-year-old Ejimafor (Ejii) Ugabe, is an excellent and much-needed addition to the lily white ranks
The Shadow Speaker/ Nnedi Okorafor/2007

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy

Format: Book

Summary:In West Africa in 2070, after fifteen-year-old "shadow speaker" Ejii witnesses her father's beheading, she embarks on a dangerous journey across the Sahara to find Jaa, her father's killer, and upon finding her, she also discovers a greater purpose to her life and to the mystical powers she possesses.

Considerations and Precautions: This is a very dark story with some pretty graphic violence. The
The world this book creates is fantastic. It brims over with creativity and ideas. Ultimately, however, I felt that the plot and characters fell a bit short, and the dialogue was rather stilted, which is why it only gets three stars; but it's worth a read for the sheer brilliance and wonder of the setting.

The characters start off in a future Earth that's been transformed by a mixture of scientific and magical catastrophe and then travel to another world called Ginen; the former is much more inte
Raheem A 8a
Dec 10, 2015 Raheem A 8a rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nnedi Okorafor's "The Shadow Speaker" The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi OkoraforThe Shadow Speaker is a very unique and good book. I enjoyed it because it takes place in West Africa, but is still a book full of fantasy and adventure like Percy Jackson. The main character Ejii is my favorite character because even though she is discriminated against because of her shadow speaking abilities, she is ever helpful and understanding. Both girls and boys will love this just right, coming of age story.
Meghan Fidler
Jul 13, 2013 Meghan Fidler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There were no stand-out lines and I took no quotes from the novel. This simplistic style is the defining factor, I suppose, for Okorafor-Machu's novel to be considered 'young adult' literature.
No matter what the intended audience (and the Disney off-shoot Publisher did its best to alienate me, an adult, from the text with a cover so hokey that I refused to bring the book into public space), amazing story telling has the power to captivate any audience. "The Shadow Speaker" has the grammar of a l
Feb 26, 2015 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I sometimes resist the term "speculative fiction" because I think its main purpose it to sound more highbrow than sci-fi or fantasy; however, I'll admit that it comes in handy for a book like The Shadow Speaker. Okorafor combines elements of science fiction (a futuristic Earth, portals to other planets, inter-species diplomacy) and fantasy (magic, supernatural powers, talking animals). Whatever the term you prefer, The Shadow Speaker is a fun genre read. It tells the story of Ejii, a spunky youn ...more
Nov 10, 2015 E.A rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First what I appreciate: I appreciate the present day narrative intertwining with folklore led to a nice mix. Some visuals were strong. But I couldn't take it once the dialogue became to cheesy and the narrative prose grew weak within itself. I got tired of reading passive phrases such as, "something like a pomegranate". What upset me the most was that our narrators new best friend, who is suddenly like a brother to her, does nothing but complain and storm around. I can see what Okorafor might b ...more
Feb 13, 2016 Cori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-library
When I started reading through Ms. Okorafor's books, I didn't realize how many of them were set in the same worlds. I'm still confused how the timeline works, what order these semi-related stories take place. I think that stymied some of my enjoyment of the book. Ejii is another teenager who is thrust into a quest she doesn't want. However, the world building isn't as thrilling as in Akata Witch or Zahrah the Windseeker and the quest fulfillment seems less a choice than something the world deman ...more
Yasmin Yunos
Mar 30, 2014 Yasmin Yunos is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Shaw
I did not like this book. It was all over the place. I loved the premise of the book; the author had some very good ideas. However, the author did not explain her ideas enough. Oftentimes, random things, whether it was a creature or a plant or a mutant sandstorm, would pop-up for a few sentences only and then disapear for the rest of the book. There were so many creatures and items that the author would very briefly describe that had no effect on the outcome of the story. It would have made sens ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Jenn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I REALLY liked this book, until about 90% of the way through. Basically, until the climax. The description of the antagonist came off as extremely fatphobic and really just relied on a whole lot of overused, fatphobic, boring tropes. I also found the conclusion really unsatisfying, I felt like not much was really accomplished and the main character's shining moment didn't really... shine enough for me. I felt like she didn't really quite reach her full potential.

It was a real shame, b
William Crosby
Very imaginative and bizarre melding of botany with technology.

Set mostly in Africa on Earth of 2070 after a nuclear fallout and "Peace Bomb" which causes many mutations. There are interdimensional holes which connect Earth with several other planets, including Ginen (where "Zahrah the Windseeker" is set).

This book also has a young teen heroine who is different with special powers which she gradually learns to use, however there were more characters than Zahrah with less character definition and
Daniel Burton-Rose
I never thought I'd read a Disney book that quoted Fanon on the cleansing power of violence. I like it!
Jun 10, 2015 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awarding an extra star for fabulous ideas and world building. It's worth reading just for that. I liked the main character (14 year old Nigerian Muslim girl) but felt like the secondary characters weren't as strong, and I really wanted them to be. The ending felt a bit rushed which suggests some pacing problems. I think this was also an early novel in her career so I suspect that her later novels are probably stronger in the areas I didn't like as well. In any case, I'm looking forward to findin ...more
Diem Shepard
I think that I came to this with expectations that were too high. There are some nice touches, but the futuristic setting didn't ring true. Cultural and political themes were touched upon, but so lightly as to be easily lost. I picked it up because I had read one of her short stories, but didn't realize that it was a YA. (I am not dissing the designation: some of my favorite novels are YA.)So that may also have influenced my reaction. Still, it was interesting enough to make me willing to try so ...more
I have to wonder if there is any folklore that went into this story and went over my head. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. This story was very fantastical and a bit absurd, but touching. I feel a bit bad for giving it three stars, because I ultimately think it just wasn’t my style. Who am I to say it was just a “decent” read? But I liked it. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t adore it, and so it gets three stars.

I found the characters interesting, and their relations to be a bit complex. Ejii had a grea
Apr 18, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I've been having a sort of disappointing book year. It isn't unusual for me not to give out many 5 star ratings. I just did 7/170 last year. But so far this has been a solidly 3 star book year for me. That doesn't mean I don't like them. It means that I liked them enough to finish them but they aren't going to stay with me.

The Shadow Speaker was such a breath of fresh air. From the beginning it was wonderful to sink into the world of Nnedi Okorafor's imagination.

"Kwàmfà, Ejii's home, was a town

Matthew Lloyd
Feb 28, 2016 Matthew Lloyd rated it really liked it
The Shadow Speaker is a richly imaginative narrative brimming with imagination. It tells the deceptively simple story of fourteen-year-old Ejii, who is desperately seeking The Red Queen, Jaa, her father's killer - but not because she killed her father. Indeed, Ejii seems fairly happy about her father's murder. Ejii is seeking Jaa because the spiral of violence in post-nuclear Nigeria threatens the whole world - and several others besides. What I found particularly enjoyable about The Shadow Spea ...more
WOW!!!............ Let's take a moment to let that sink in.....
When I first picked up this book and read the synopsis, I was blown away!!!
I love anything to do with African fiction.......they are mind blowing .....This book did beyond that.
I was hooked from the first page !!!!
I LOVE EVERYTHING to do with this book, the plot, the characters, the way it was written and of course the fantasy ideas.
Now I am not a big fan of fantasy .....but I like fantasy books that still have real life touches. T
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Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults.

Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times cal
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