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Review: Who Fears Death (Who Fears Death #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

March 27, 2018
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: DAW on June 1, 2010
Format Read:  Paperback Edition (420 pages)
Genre: Fantasy/ African/ Sci-fi
Series: Book One of Who Fears Death
Source: Purchased
Rating: FIVE STARS
Who Fears Death
~Amazon~ 
In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue.

Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny – to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture – and eventually death itself.

VERDICT:

 Content Warning:
Rape, Female Circumcision

REVIEW: 

Onyesonwu is a fierce young women who sets out to face who she is and discover her destiny in the process. The Nuru seek to oppress Okeke people, the violence and pain that they inflict on the Okeke was disturbing to read about. Onyesonwu's mother uses the pain she felt when she was raped to move forward and heroically rebuilds a life for herself when she survives. The well written descriptions of magic and African Spirituality made me want to learn more. The book  describes female circumcision which is a practice that makes sex painful for most who receive it. There are initiatives to stop this practice in many countries but unfortunately it still persists today.
 "We cried and sobbed and wept and bled tears. But when we were finished, all we could do was continue living."
While the book follows the lives of young people they deal with the complex issues of rape, sex, death and violence. The characters were well developed and the many different cultures that Onyesonwu encountered were interesting and engaging. She faces many barriers because despite her magical abilities most women are not allowed to study magic in her village. Onyesonwu persists however and fearlessly pursues justice for Okeke people and her family. 

I was engaged with the book the whole way through and connected with parts of this book emotionally. This book had everything I expected and more. Besides a complex magic system, there was surprise twists, action and humor. I can't wait to read more books by this author.

Recomended for Readers Who
-enjoy Diverse Fantasy
-want to learn more about African cultures
-want to read about powerful female characters

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois. Learn more about Nnedi at Nnedi.com.
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