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The Book of Phoenix

(Who Fears Death #0)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  5,037 ratings  ·  724 reviews
A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell….

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix w
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by DAW
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Todd I was given The Book of Pheonix and hence read it before knowing of any other titles ... having now also read Who Fears Death it's clear each book is …moreI was given The Book of Pheonix and hence read it before knowing of any other titles ... having now also read Who Fears Death it's clear each book is virtually independant of the other, being set in different times and circumstance. The Book of Pheonix has no spoilers if you read it before the other one...(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  5,037 ratings  ·  724 reviews

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Start your review of The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0)
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I loved writing this, though I tried so hard not to write it at all; it just kept coming and coming. And I had to see how it ended...or shall I say, how it all started. I tell people that WHO FEARS DEATH and THE BOOK OF PHOENIX are sisters. THE BOOK OF PHOENIX (the prequel to WHO FEARS DEATH) is older and angrier.

I wrote this on my blog and I still stand by the statement:
"How do the stories connect? Who is Phoenix to Onyesownu and Onyesonwu to Phoenix? You'll have to read them to find out. Don
Althea Ann
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
The beginning of this appeared, in slightly different form, in Clarkesworld (http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/okora...), causing me some confusion as I begin to read it...

I loved 'Who Fears Death.' I very, very much liked the short story that forms the beginning of this book. I did not like this book. I was sorely disappointed by it.

I've been trying to think of how to articulate exactly why. I think that part of it is that the main character is a woman with an 'adult' intelligence, but who i
3.5-4 stars. The story opens with a old couple in a desert at some unspecified future. When the old man stumbles upon an old, abandoned cache of computers, he ends up accidentally triggering a recording which relates events from the past, which is still many years in our future. Nnedi Okorafor describes a frightening time in this past, where a large biotech firm LifeGen, though referred to throughout the story as Big Eyes, masquerades as a benign drug and cosmetic company, all the while actually ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book - it's quite layered: a book within a book within a story of inner stories! This is only my second Nnedi Okorafor read (I read Binti last year); and now I'm thinking she's going to be on my list of favorite authors.

I don't normally read science fiction and fantasy-although I have read and loved many works by Octavia Butler-so I always have to open myself up to the "foreignness" of entering a new world, accepting its mores and customs, languages, and rules, and trustin
Thomas Wagner
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
"We were so colonized we built our own shackles," notes the titular heroine of The Book of Phoenix, perhaps the angriest SFF novel to broadside the genre since Joanna Russ's The Female Man. Whereas in Lagoon, Afrofuturist Nnedi Okorafor seemed to kick up her heels and cast a satirical eye on the fraught political relationships between Africa and the west, The Book of Phoenix hits America's bloody history of oppression, slavery and colonialism with all the incendiary rage it's earned. This will m ...more
To my shock this is a DNF at 63%. I loved Who Fears Death and I've been wanting to read this for more than two years.

Where to begin?

The Writing:
This book reads like it needed about 10 more rewrites for a number of reasons. First, it's a blend of sci-fi and fantasy but it reads like it was too unfocused to fit in either genre rather than this being a deliberate choice. It's a mess of unrigorous somewhere-in-the-middle and that's-good-enough.

Second, a few more rewrites might have killed this littl
Book Riot Community
I first became aware of Nnedi Okorafor because of a short story I read called “Spider the Artist.” I sought out her other works, and I found myself totally wrapped up in a story that I later learned would be at the heart of the The Book of Phoenix. Phoenix and her story exist in that shimmering space that marks where science fiction and magical realism overlap. Science, for better or for worse, drives the narrative. It is the thing that helped make Phoenix and the others who they are, and it is ...more
Viv JM
The Book of Phoenix is a beautifully written tale, combining elements of fantasy & mythology with very cool science fiction (Anansi droids, anyone?). It is a story of love, death, friendship and a battle for justice/redemption. I really enjoyed this one and can see why it has been nominated for the Arthur C Clarke award - totally deserving.
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Book of Phoenix', published in 2015, is the prequel to the events in Who Fears Death. I have not read 'Who Fears Death' which was published in 2010, so my review is probably missing insight.

The character Sunateel enjoyed taking little vacations sometimes from his nomadic tent life with his wife by camping out alone in the desert, exploring. After a storm, he decides to take off. He discovers a cave filled with computers from the Black Days, which occurred two hundred years ago. The belief i
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"Human beings make terrible gods."

I love the novel Who Fears Death with a deep, abiding passion. When I read it, I re-read it instantly. I recommended it to everyone, even people who never read fantasy or science fiction. I felt it transcended genre, was doing something new, I couldn't say enough about it.

That's a pretty big shoe to fill, even by the same author. I knew this book was coming out but had lost track of it, reminded only when discussing the nominees for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, o
Dawn F
Such an interesting, fascinating story of self-discovery and revenge. Sadly I felt that it fizzled out a bit in the end. I almost wish it hadn’t been a precurser to Who Fears Death, the two books are remarkably different in style and I’d almost forgotten they were connected until the very end. Still, well written and culturally informative as well, which is a thing I love about Nnedi.
This was a 3.5 Star read for me. I thought it was an interesting story but the execution seemed a little off. The storyline rushed. Not enough world building before and after Phoenix. Also, the book was told from her point of view. Perhaps because of the premise, the character voice was off. Never quite adult or child. Not enough information. I haven't read Who Fears Death yet, but there were some sledgehammers dropped in this tale to provide the link between the books. No nuance. However...I de ...more
Nate Davis
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
A dismal, brutal, and unforgiving book. It's a sort of power-fantasy for the disenfranchised, which leaves you with little sympathy for them whatsoever. The antagonists are undeveloped and one-sided, the protagonist is immortal and therefore incapable of generating suspense, the plot meanders even though the main character's goal is straightforward and simple-minded: destruction. The prose waffles between mysticism and cliche. I did feel compelled to read to the finish; I was only hoping the fin ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I was completely blind sided by this audio! The story is near future scifi with awesome genetically modified humans with powers and a lot of inspiration from different African myths. The main character is the kind of anti-heroine I love and she's mostly Nigerian! The audiobook narration is gorgeous and brings these characters to life with excellent accents. Highly recommended and I'm a new fan of this author! ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-my-best-of
I’ve loved every line of this novel! The Book of Phoenix is a great example of what Delany thinks is science-fiction, a literature that uses a special language to talk not about future, but about the present and its potentiality, and about the lingering shadows of the past.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This short, futuristic novel is essentially a power/revenge fantasy focused on the exploitation of people of African descent, especially in medical research. (Calling it a power fantasy isn’t necessarily a criticism; much of sci-fi and fantasy consists of power fantasies for white male nerds, so it seems only fair for others to get a cut of the action.) Despite a compelling start and socially relevant themes, however, this one flopped for me.

Phoenix lives in a future America in which powerful co
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Even more amazing than the other two Nnedi Okorafor books I've read ("Akata Witch" and "Who Fears Death", both of which tie in a bit with this). A 6-star novel, if there is such a thing (THERE IS NOW, OK). Here is yet another sympathetic, multi-layered heroine at the helm of a hypnotic story.

While "The Book of Phoenix" is certainly a pulse-pounding sci-fi novel, it also tackles colonialism and non-consensual medical experimentation, and is laced with acute moments of both human innocence and hu
OMFG This was so damn good.
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
This is technically a prequel to a book I haven’t yet read, Who Fears Death, but it stands alone just fine. I actually think this might be the first book of Okorafor’s I’ve enjoyed this much — it shares themes with Lagoon and with what I know of Who Fears Death, shares the same anger at and examination of colonialism, racial issues, etc, but somehow Phoenix came alive for me more than any of the characters of Lagoon or Binti.

There were some aspects of this that I didn’t quite get — it just seeme
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
About halfway through, I thought that Okorafor understood mythology and mythmaking as well as anyone writing now. Then I got to the final two chapters, which made it clear that Okorafor's understanding of myth is light years beyond anyone else. Myth and sacred text are never just about myth. They're inevitably racial narratives, and have consequences far beyond anything the disembodied and forgotten authors could have intended. The Book of Phoenix is not about the life and deaths of Phoenix, eve ...more

this book is what the hunger games and allegiant could have been. it's the most diverse dystopian novel i've ever read by far.

i had no idea you could even fit this much action and depth into 240 pages, tbh. like... whoa.

SO MUCH happened but it all worked, somehow. also can i mention how much i LOVE (view spoiler)
Okay more on this later but I need to say that I think Nnedi Okorafor is the one true heir to Octavia Butler's legacy. All power and respect to all the other writers who love Butler, but most of them don't get that Butler loved genre, not just ideas & social justice! She was a science fiction writer! And Okorafor is the same. It's all there. God I wish she would write 100 books. I have to go finish this one now. SO GOOD. So good. ...more
Sarah Wynker
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm surprised by this rating myself. I loved Who Fear Death, so I was ready to give The Book of Phonix its five little stars. But boy was I wrong. The Book of Phonix is not a bad book. It has quite a high rating, so it's not as if I wouldn't recommend it. In this case, I feel like it's more of a it's me not you sort of thing.

Similarly to Who Fear Death, Okorafor wanted to tackle lots of heavy topics through her writing. However, for me it didn't work, at all. It feel to me like Okorafor had lot
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
...There is probably not much in it but I think this prequel is a better book than Who Fears Death. It is a pretty wild ride, looking over the shoulder of a very unpredictable main character. I felt Who Fears Death relied a bit too much on magic to resolve tricky problems in the plot. The Book of Phoenix is better in that respect. Like its predecessor, it is a novel that asks equally difficult questions to most of its readership, and one that doesn't shy away from pointing out uncomfortably trut ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars rounded down because endings have an outsized impact for me and this ending was just blah. I haven't read Who Fears Death so I did not know even part of this story. Some good, some bad, the plot was all over the place, time wise, which I assume was to give us a taste of Phoenix "slipping", it was a bit too scattered. Phoenix herself was great, I loved the build up until the burn down, I felt the losses and I am sure all of us at one point in time wanted to burn the whole world down so ...more
“I love books. I adore everything about them. I love the feel of the pages on my fingertips. They are light enough to carry, yet so heavy with worlds and ideas.” (135)

“We’re so colonized that we build our own shackles. Some young engineer… came up with the idea after reading a science fiction story about robot spiders guarding the pipelines of the Niger Delta. Life imitated art, except this particular story was critiquing the government not giving them a blueprint. The author must be rolling in
Bonnie McDaniel
This book is weird, messy and complicated. It's billed as a science fiction story, and it certainly is that; the titular main character, Phoenix Okore, is a genetically engineered being, after all. In this future, climate change has advanced to the point that Manhattan Island is partially under water. There's a two-mile-high tree growing out of what's left of Manhattan that was generated by an alien seed. Phoenix is essentially a superhero, a living bomb (with wings!) who can blow herself up, bu ...more
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This. This is the SF novel that the world needs right now. So glad Okorafor went there.

So good it belongs on a banned books list.
“I’m only doing what I’m made to do - taking life. I will take it all. I am a hurricane of death and destruction. I am villain.”
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction

The Book of Phoenix is the origin story of a superhero who consciously chooses to be the villain, Because Rage. It's also the origin story of the Great Book, which I understand is important in Who Fears Death (which I will be reading soon).

I loved it!

There's a lot of rage and anger and vengeance in this book. Against cruelty and torture, against slavery, against attitudes and prejudices that allow people to be enslaved even in a modern age, and the twisting of science into a chamber of horrors.

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Nnedi Okorafor is a New York Times Bestselling writer of science fiction and fantasy for both children and adults. The more specific terms for her works are africanfuturism and africanjujuism, both terms she coined and defined. Born in the United States to two Nigerian (Igbo) immigrant parents and visiting family in Nigeria since she was a child, the foundation and inspiration of Nnedi’s work is r ...more

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Who Fears Death (1 books)
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