Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a hard book to get through for one primary reason: the violence toward women. It's never easy to read. Getting sick to my stomach mars my enjoyment of what is an otherwise fantastic and rich fantasy with all the standard tropes of apprenticeship, tragedy, and sacrifice.
If I could get beyond the rather horrible institutionalized brutality, (and I kinda have to in order to finish the book,) then what is left is a rather great dystopian fantasy, totally post-apocalyptic, that shows hints of our old world with computers and dead civilization and a complete pendulum-reversal where spirits and possible gods and magic from Africa has rebounded.
It was strange, but I only later came to realize that all races were included in this book. The names are changed but the significance only comes later. I just got the impression at first that these were all different tribal groups with vague, if emotionally-charged, underpinnings. The winner always bashes the loser. Needs to constantly bash the loser. Has written a book to confirm the need to bash the loser.
But when the reveals come on us, it's rather satisfying. And disturbing. And atrocious.
Overall, however, this is a pretty fantastic book of fantasy and horror, very African, lots of big magic and violence and a tiny bit of hope. The rules to the magic are not overly-developed and still leave a lot to be discovered, but it's sufficient and strange and full of the wilderness. :)
I'm glad I read this. And that's not just because it was a World Fantasy Award winner. It's just so damn hard to read about all this kind of violence.
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