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The Shadow Speaker

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,124 ratings  ·  185 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Disney Book Group/Hyperion
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Suzi I ended up finding a paperback copy at the library and enjoyed it. I found it to be quite different from Who Fears Death personally.

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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,124 ratings  ·  185 reviews

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Aug 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: people young and old who enjoy a good story
Recommended to Nnedi by: me
Absolutely wonderful. :-D
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Abigail, Brad, Ceridwen, jo, Mme T
How friggin' scary--a talking shadow!

Perfect for Halloween! Can't wait to read this!
duck reads
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, sff
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
A fun and engaging read with a powerful anti-violence message. I discovered Nnedi Okorafor last year when I read her enchanting Akata Witch series. I have since enjoyed several other of her books. This book is young Adult.
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
duuuuuuuuuuuuude. Look. I ate this up in one sitting. I could barely convince myself to put it down to pee (spoiler alert, I didn't, I took it with me.) I wish I could give it another star. I kind of want to fight people giving it bad reviews. I want to erase it from my memory so I can read it again. I want to read 1000 more books in this world. This is what spec fic should be man A+ bye yall

Awesome female lead, check. Awesome female lead with two female mentors (mother + Jaa and dont even get
Sheila Ruth
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Nicholas Gourlay
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow I liked this book, and I can't remember the last time I said that about something post-apocalyptic. Probably never. I was really impressed by the narrative character, Ejii; she is caught between being a child and a young woman and the author is not afraid to explore this dichotomy and the whirlwind of emotions that accompany every part of her changing self. I particularly liked that despite everything crazy and unforeseen in her journey, Ejii never waivers in her worldview or her faith. She ...more
Ai Miller
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ai by: Minosh
I really had no idea what to expect going into this and WOW it really blew my socks off! The world was so rich and yet so, so grounded; the characters all were so complex and sympathetic and yet frustrating as well. I loved that things had consequences in this book, and was left wanting a lot more of this world- I was surprised there hasn't been a sequel because it really felt like there was going ot be, but I also recognize the power in having this be a standalone and encouraging the reader to ...more
Karen Healey
Jul 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
290910: interesting locale and culture as background to adventures, fantasy/sf version of post-nuclear war societies in africa. this world connected to others, merging, polluting, with some portrayal of lead characters, as different, not entirely earth humans. tendency towards new age, green, environmentally sensitive other worlds, an ending that is not an ending...
Daniel Burton-Rose
I never thought I'd read a Disney book that quoted Fanon on the cleansing power of violence. I like it! ...more
Octavia Cade
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I really loved this, and I think it's my favourite of Okorafor's that I've read so far, even surpassing Who Fears Death, which was outstanding but a little too violent for my tastes. I don't even want to give the library copy of Shadow Speaker back, which means I'll have to buy one of my own...

I think what attracts me most to this is the imagery. In a way it reminds me of Meredith Ann Pierce's Darkangel trilogy. Not because of any similarity of setting or subject matter, because there is none, b
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Overall I really enjoyed this book (as I had expected I would). Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite authors, and I found many of the same themes I've loved in her other books: fantastic characters, poignant plotting, fascinating worlds, an exciting blend of magic and technology...but I was let down toward the end of the book when a character's weight became a defining characteristic. His insatiable consumption and the descriptions of his appearance make him feel one-dimensional, a stark contras ...more
Thistle & Verse
Set in 2070 Niger after events of Zahrah the Windseeker. A bomb has forced the worlds together giving some people on Earth powers and causing exchanges of culture and tech with people from the other worlds. Protagonist is a New Taureg Muslim girl. It's for a mature middle grade or younger young adult because of gore. I like the sentient plants and animals and how they interact with humans. The main character's struggles are intriguing, and I like how Okorafor projects what ethnic groups will for ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, fiction, ya-childrens
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
Meghan Fidler
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Raheem A 8a
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nnedi Okorafor's "The Shadow Speaker" The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor The 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. ...more
Wilhelmina Jenkins
I read this book because I enjoyed the author's adult book, Who Fears Death, so much. This was a YA book, so there was not the same thematic depth as WFD, but the author's soaring imagination was in top form and the story was great. I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to future books by Okorafor. ...more
Jennifer Bradshaw
I really enjoyed this book. I felt could really identify/be the main character throughout most of the story. I haven't read many books set in Niger and Nigeria, and I enjoyed learning about some folklore of those areas in this science fiction/fantasy story.

I hope to write a longer review at some point.
Amy Layton
What an amazing book.  The Shadow Speaker blurs the boundaries between science-fiction and fantasy, allowing for imaginative technology and other-worldly beings and councils.  As Ejii treads the lines of the two worlds, she also must tread the lines between her family and her need, her society and her friends.  On her path to Jaa, she continues to confront her past and her present, though she's never quite sure whether she's feeling the Call--which is arguably one of the most interesting discuss ...more
Becki Iverson
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is really hard to believe that this was the second novel Nnedi ever wrote. It is so densely packed and tightly written - truly an excellent set of world building. I am more convinced than ever that she is building a continent-wide series that is going to change the dynamics of sci-fi and fantasy as we know it. This was so rich in detail and I am dying to dive straight into her first novel, Zahra the Windseeker (who are characters in this book!) next, but unfortunately I have to plow through s ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, ya-children
I'm catching up on earlier Nnedi Okorafor books, and happened to read this right after Zahrah the Windseeker. That was good luck. Zahrah is set in the world of Ginen, and this book gives more background on how that world is related to Earth. Like Zahrah, it's a coming-of-age story of a girl with magical powers. Ejii is a shadow speaker. At the beginning of the book, she barely knows what that means, and by the end, she has come into her full power.

In the course of the book, Ejii starts travelin
Books & Quills Magazine
"I first picked up The Shadow Speaker because I have recently become an avid fan of Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, recent Hugo award winner for her novella, Binti. Not only was I intrigued by the fact that her stories of magical realism set in Africa (whether partially or wholly) but I was also excited by her featuring girls coming of age and into their own power. The Shadow Speaker does not disappoint. This full-length novel centers on Ejii, a 14-year-old Muslim Nigerian girl living in 2070. She also h ...more
Monika Barger
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unforgettable people, creatures, worlds. Complicated, murky, REAL situations. Little mysteries hidden everywhere. My favorite so far I've read from her. ...more
I enjoyed the kickass feminist aspects of the book. The world and how it worked confused me but I dived in. I initially chose it because Diana Wynne Jones has praised the book. It's imaginative and out there and it's rare to read sci-fi by women with female protagonists so 3 stars for that. ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is definitely a story for all ages. I really loved the world building, mystical powers, and characters. This was my first read by Nnedi Okorafor and definitely not my last. My next books from Nnedi will definitely be Who Fears Death, The Book of Phoenix, and the Akata Witch series. Thank you, Nnedi! Please consider doing a sequel!
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Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based project ...more

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