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The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor
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The Shadow Speaker (2007)

by Nnedi Okorafor

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2561564,125 (3.9)21
  1. 20
    Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Zahrah the Windseeker and The Shadow Speaker occur within the same world-system, and those who have read Zahrah the Windseeker will find that it makes The Shadow Speaker a richer experience. Still, both delightfully stand alone and it is not necessary to have read both to enjoy these excellent coming of age stories.… (more)
  2. 10
    Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin (electronicmemory)
  3. 00
    AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers by Ivor W. Hartmann (goddesspt2)
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A solid YA, in the science fantasy vein, i.e., mixing a tiny bit of SF in the form of some of Peace Bombing that occurred when nuclear war broke out, leading to an interdimensional breakdown, but most of the story is magic-based. The setting is a radically changed Nigeria. It's clear the rest of the world has changed too, but the meat of the story and the future of Earth occurs here. Half a star just for that. The primary character is a female shadow speaker, who can hear voices from somewhere, though exactly what the shadows are (the dead? aliens) is never clear. It's claimed that they never lie, but they certainly are not consistent in their advice. That ambiguity occurs everywhere in the book, and is the strongest element, IMO. The main character is engaging and learning to be strong. The storyline is in part a quest -- called a walkabout but there's too much of a destination for that. Those elements struck me as average for YA. The plot resolution was well done, as was the anticlimax.

I had hoped for more of a breakout book, but still recommended, ( )
2 vote ChrisRiesbeck | Oct 14, 2018 |
Plot:
In a post-nuclear future, Eiji lives in a small village in Nigeria. She has a difficult position there: her father used to be the dictator of the village, claiming that he did the bidding of the Red Queen, a much respected nomad. But when the Queen herself came to the village, she beheaded him instead of supporting him. In addition to her family history, Eiji also has magic powers – she is a shadow speaker, which singles her out even more. And now the Red Queen has come back to town with her two husbands and she’s about to drastically change Eiji’s life.

I enjoyed The Shadow Speaker, though I maybe didn’t like it quite as much as Zahrah the Windseeker. Eiji is a great character and the setting – that is connected to Zahrah’s world – is wonderfully unusual for Western readers.

Read more on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2017/06/29/the-shadow-speaker-nnedi-okorafor/ ( )
  kalafudra | Dec 2, 2017 |
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 do imagining of a future on their own.

SPOILERS

Okay I will say: having the 'Villain' (insofar as you can point to one characters as one in this book) be Fat, even with the explanation as to why, was a little gross honestly? Like we don't need to use fatphobia to reinforce how bad this guy was. There are other avenues. That and a throwaway line about Native people which wasn't BAD but could definitely be read as reinforcing some stereotypes about alcohol are my two biggest issues with the book, which speaks volumes as to how good the book is!

/SPOILER ( )
  aijmiller | Aug 23, 2017 |
I read a few pages of this book and then some paragraphs here and there and decided it's just not for me. It's a YA book. Some of those are excellent. This one didn't interest me, so I won't spend time with it and I wouldn't be fair to rate it.
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
A fascinating (and refreshingly unique) setting and gorgeous images. I found the first half a bit slow to get into, but the last half wrapped me up and pulled me along to the end quite well.
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
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Ejii was lying on her bed typing into her e-legba when the ground began to shake.
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Book description
Haunted by vengeance. Destined for peace.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu says this about The Shadow Speaker: "Spontaneous forests, polygamy, strange insects, Nigerian 419 scammers, really really fast cars, a different kind of Sahara Desert, male beauty contests, the apocalypse, life, death, sword fights, fat chiefs, assassins, this novel is kind of nuts!"

Niger, West Africa, 2070

When fifteen-year old Ejii witnesses her father's beheading, her world shatters. In an era of mind-blowing technology and seductive magic, Ejii embarks on a mystical journey to track down her father's killer. With a newfound friend by her side, Ejii comes face to face with an earth turned inside out -- and with her own magical powers.

But Ejii soon discovers that her travels across the sands of the Sahara have a greater purpose. Her people need to be protected from a force seeking to annihilate them. And Ejii may be just the hero to do it.
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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)

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