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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
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Who Fears Death

by Nnedi Okorafor

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,420728,931 (3.83)176
Born into post-apocalyptic Africa to a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.
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» See also 176 mentions

English (70)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
This was a gorgeous novel. It's set in a post-apocalyptic Saharan world and narrated by Onyesonwu, a young woman searching for her genocidal sorcerer father. All in all, a very interesting change from the glut of cookie cutter white-boy-in-medieval-Europe fantasy things we're used to.

There are quite a few horrifying, heartbreaking scenes (female circumcision, weaponized rape, genocide, to name some), so read with caution. This was definitely not a straightforward fantasy journey or coming-of-age story and there are a ton of interesting and, often uncomfortable, themes presented here. ( )
  allison_s | May 25, 2020 |
This was definitely an experience, though I admit I couldn't get into it as much as I'd hoped. The book wasn't enjoyable, exactly, but definitely worth the read. ( )
  Dreklogar | Jan 13, 2020 |
Who Fears Death is a dark, speculative novel set in Sudan at an unspecified point in the future. We know it's the future because computers are relics and people rely on 'capture stations' to draw clean water out of the air.

We follow the story of Onyesonwu, the child of rape and a sorceress who is determined to put an end to the race-based conflict between the Okeke and Nuru people. Along the way, she is supported by the love of her life, Mwita, and three female friends.

This novel certainly grabbed me from the very beginning, a rather astonishing scene centred around the death of Onye's father when she is just 16. I loved the first person perspective and the back-and-forth retelling of her journey from a child brought up in the desert to an adult with magical powers.

The darker themes of the story address not just rape and racism, but also the power dynamics between men and women in this futuristic world, mainly through Onye's treatment by other male sorcerers (including her own partner). Parts of the story can be hard to read, but they're also absolutely necessary to get the most from the novel. It was interesting - and sad - to read the author's note in the end about her being inspired by a real-life news story about violence in Sudan between Arab and African groups.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Who Fears Death. I think it's not quite a five-star read for me because it felt like the action overtook the character/personality development of the main group of characters towards the end, and I also think there were some issues that were left unresolved and that I would have liked to have seen wrapped. But this is still an excellent novel, and so refreshing for this fan of fantasy writing to read something worlds away from the traditional white narratives that I'm used to seeing. ( )
  mooingzelda | Jun 28, 2019 |
Pretty enjoyable story, if messy at times. It seemed like there were lots of things in the story and world that could have gone interesting directions but instead went nowhere. There was, however, also a bunch of stuff that ended up going places! Overall the world was gripping and the characters were fine. I would believe it if I I kept thinking about these characters years down the line, so in that sense it's a pretty good book. ( )
  haagen_daz | Jun 6, 2019 |
Such a hard read, but a just & magical ending. More soon. TW: rape & violence
  roniweb | May 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nnedi Okoraforprimary authorall editionscalculated
Flosnik, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glover, ElizabethDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kern, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruth, GregCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"Dear friends, are you afraid of death?" - Patrice Lumumba, first and only elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo
Dedication
To my amazing father, Dr. Godwin Sunday Daniel Okoroafor, M.D., F.A.C.S. (1940-2004).
First words
My life fell apart when I was sixteen. Papa died. He had such a strong heart, yet he died. Was it the heat and smoke from his blacksmithing shop? It's true that nothing could take him from his work, his art. He loved to make the metal bend, to obey him. But his work only seemed to strengthen him; he was so happy in his shop. So what was it that killed him? To this day I can't be sure. I hope it had nothing to do with me or what I did back then.
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Book description
Well-known for young adult novels (The Shadow Speaks; Zahrah the Windseeker), Okorafor sets this emotionally fraught tale in postapocalyptic Saharan Africa. The young sorceress Onyesonwu—whose name means Who fears death?—was born Ewu, bearing a mixture of her mother's features and those of the man who raped her mother and left her for dead in the desert. As Onyesonwu grows into her powers, it becomes clear that her fate is mingled with the fate of her people, the oppressed Okeke, and that to achieve her destiny, she must die. Okorafor examines a host of evils in her chillingly realistic tale—gender and racial inequality share top billing, along with female genital mutilation and complacency in the face of destructive tradition—and winds these disparate concepts together into a fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling.
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