Desiree's Reviews > Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
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Apr 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, feminism, sf-fantasy
Read from April 24 to 27, 2012

Coming into this book, I already had my biases set: I was/am not a fan of dystopian future settings and the tropes that come with them; from the first line, I was prepared to do a lot of eye-rolling with the expectation of melodramatic narratives from the lead character.

However, because of the setting of far future Africa, I was intrigued in how Okorafor would handle the racial & sociopolitical aspects of genocide that is reminiscent of the history of real-life Africa and not have it come off as heavy-handed or overly self-righteous. Perhaps it was Onyesonwu's (the main character) voice, ever-knowing yet child-like, that kept me interested enough to read on a rather confusing timeline and story-telling (where it switches from first-person present to third-person after-the-end narrative).

While trying to not give away too much, the issues brought up and the level of detail given in regards to the Okeke genocide may leave a sour taste in the reader's mouth, it is in the detail that the book forces Onyesonwu (and by proxy, the reader) honest to the brutality of life.

That's not to say that it's all doom-and-gloom; the secondary cast do give some levity and humor to Onyesonwu constant struggle. Personally, this is my exception-to-the-rule in terms of my tastes in books, but for those who are already fans of the (non-YA) dystopian future genre, I would give this a chance, though I understand that this is a polarizing book in terms of subject matter.
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