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In a post apocalyptic Sudan, Onyesonwu Igbo for who fears death lives, being the offspring of the rape a Nuru man imposed upon a woman of the oppressed Okeke After she has grown, she goes on a search to destroy her father, a sorcerer, using her own magic.I read somewhere that this book was partially inspired by Emily Wax s 2004 Washington Post article We Want to Make a Light Baby, which spoke of weoponized rape the Arab military men used against Black women during the Dafur conflict And after reading it, I can see why The book depicts brutality that I can very well see occurring during such a conflict The point of these men was to humiliate the families and tribes the women belonged to, and I don t know how it worked, but I hope it backfired on them and that they got the punishment they deserve.I appreciate how her mother , even if she was raped by this man, and must have been reminded constantly on the event, took her other, and alongside her became an outcast, rather than leaving her in the desert to die.In this world people fear magic and saw technology as evil , hence the most basic things are not done such as collection of water from the sky or heating stones for warmth This magic and science is the main reason, by divine decree and holy scriptures, that the Okeke are being oppressed, as the Nuru claim the goddess is punishing them for inventing and developing technology Which to me is similar to how racism in the West is shownTo be something abnormal meant that you were to serve the normal And if you refused, they hated you and often the normal hated you even when you did serve them Another thing I appreciated, was that the love interest was a bit of a sexist, but since Onyesonwu is an independent woman who don t need no man , he has to learn to tone down his misogyny and learn that his views are erratic and idiotic.Warning There is a scene in which female genital mutilation is performed to the main female character, which impairs her from using her magical powers I loved that it was in the book, even if it was so brutal, because even though some might say it portrays a darker part of the African culture, it s a thing that still happens, and that we should not ignore it, but rather work to help eradicate it This act is about suppressing women, and must be stopped, and reading it, will bring it to light to people that might not have heard of it before Now go on and educate yourself with this beautiful text that will make you question so many things in life you will have to write an essay on it. La primera mitad del libro me pareci una aut ntica maravilla, original, cr tico, cruel Tan personal con esa mezcla de cultura africana, magia y misticismo La segunda mitad una vez comienza el viaje para mi decae bastante, por los personajes, la trama e incluso el ritmo Eso no quita que haya sido un libro que he disfrutado enormemente y recomiendo encarecidamente a todo el que se atreva con una historia diferente Me ha sorprendido su fuerza y la rabia de esta autora que cada d a admiro m s I read my first Octavia Butler novel, Dawn, late in 2014, and late in my life Reading it I was like oh no black women authored speculative fiction, where have you been all my life right there on the shelf being read by millions of folk in the know while I wasted my time, obviously This is my favourite kind of thing to read, hands down, it hits my reading spot mmmm This isn t a book of sublimely polished prose where the writer has clearly agonised over every adverb, but the ease and directness of the style serves the narrative and themes well.The novel is set in an apparently post apocalyptic Africa, where two clearly distinguishable ethnic groups are in conflict The dark skinned Okeke rich brown skin, woolly black hair are, according to The Great Book, suffering punishment by the goddess Ani for their exuberant creativity in producing technology like computers, by being forced to become the slaves of the light skinned Nuru yellow brown skin, straight dark hair Uprisings on the part of the Okeke are currently being met with bloody mass slaughter by the Nuru.Okorafor frees her narrative from significant obstacles by solving the need for water, inventing an apparently inexpensive and highly reliable portable device that draws water from the sky as quick as a conjuring trick, enabling hardy nomads and travellers to roam the desert independent of oases or settlements Since people are evidently conscious of the need for hygiene and enjoy being clean personal thanks to Okorafor and other authors who think of these things As a clean freak I often have to suppress foolish anxious thoughts in my reading why hasn t he washed his hands surely she needs to shower now Almost equally importantly, the nightly chill can be warded off by a rock fire Simply gather a few stones fully recyclable for this purpose and coax them by means of simple juju to become hot, and hey presto However, most townsfolk are too superstitious to make use of such practical magic.I always like it when writers envision a time when basic resource needs are not really a problem, but Okorafor not only does so unobtrusively and in a way that delightfully synthesises hi tech and magical skills rooted presumably in ancient folk tradition, she also does so in a non utopian social organisation to focus on other sources of conflict Many of the factors that entrench and replenish white supremacy in contexts like the UK and US, like the myth of meritocracy and hierarchical individualism aspects of the neoliberal ideology are not evident in Okeke or Nuru culture Here the controlling mythology is the scriptural story of racial domination by divine decree This is certainly not without its analogues in European scientific racism and even so in white supremacist interpretations of the Bible, but the difference is actually very striking Most Okeke accept their fate, but they do not believe in the inherent superiority of the Nuru, and mixed race children are shunned and deemed ugly by them Moreover, it appears that both groups exihibit communitarian values The Okeke build their lives around family and community institutions, participating in seemingly highly democratic local governance However, they can be hostile to the point of extreme violence to strangers, socially conservative and patriarchal.I really appreciated Okorafor s exploration of female circumcision I don t want my review to be all about this, but this is definitely the best fictional treatment of the issue I have read and I want to elaborate on this.It s really significant that Onyesonwu isn t pushed into having the procedure done by her family her mother is a migrant in the town and comes from an area where girls are not cut, so she sees it as backward and barbaric Onyesonwu goes to the ceremony in secret and tries to hide the fact from her mother, although she believes she is acting for her family s sake The compromised consent of an eleven year old intended to justify the custom makes it appear even dubious Obviously, the girls are eager to undergo a rite of passage that is necessary to avoid ostracism and to mark their entry into adulthood After the Eleventh Rite they must abstain from intercourse until marriage At the ceremony, the three other girls who were cut alongside Onyesonwu confessed that they had all been very sexually active up to that point.The context of the confession and the cutting itself is the house of the Ada , a kind of priestess Okorafor makes this woman highly sympathetic, by having her house beautifully decorated with a fantasy water themed mural she has painted herself in a country far from the sea, where rivers are a rumour The ceremony is also attended by other female elders, including the town healer who uses both allopathic and traditional styles of medicine who performs the surgical cut with a sterilized razor blade These women are present to hold the girls down, but also to create an atmosphere of safety and reassurance In the ceremony the girls confess their sexual histories they are assured that it is safe to do so and bound to mutual secrecy , discard their clothes and are given new robes, a belly chain and a diamond to carry in their mouths Afterwards, girls circumcised together become solid friendship groups Really, it s all very pleasant apart from the cut, which causes acute agony and chronic pain, as well as disability when it comes to sexual activity view spoiler Later, during sex, Onyesonwu relieves her suffering by using her sorcery to regrow her clitoris, and later does the same for her friends The healing requires the manipulation of flesh and time and so leaves Onyesonwu with an excess of both on her hands that has to be balanced by accessing the spirit world Sadly, few circumcized girls have access to a sorcerer to restore their lost secret of joy , but hide spoiler I ve kept an eye on Nnedi Okorafor s career for a while now Her books always intrigued me I have a hard time resisting anything post apocalyptic, and hers are set in Africa, a great antidote to the typical lily white American version but the fact that they were always targeted at young adults kept me away I like books to have some subtlety about them, paragraphs that don t have the same words in each sentence, lines of dialogue that don t end with she said ly To be fair these are certainly also faults of the pulpy SF of earlier decades, but I have a higher standard for newer work, I guess So when hype about Who Fears Death, her first adult novel, started bubbling up, I couldn t wait.Oops.Turns out that what separates this novel from her kid friendly ones is the content, not the construction Certainly the themes and events of the story are undeniably, brutally adult, and Okorafor certainly deserves a great deal of respect for her willingness to unflinchingly examine rape, genocide, and female genital mutilation This is an author committed to the use of science fiction as a dialectical examination of our own present, and this left some scenes of the book excruciatingly difficult to read The prose, however, is still rather plodding and simplistic, while the dialogue oof It was hard not to laugh through most of the arguments the couples in the book had of which there were so, so many.Other than that, though, I was pretty disappointed Outside of the on point politics, this was a pretty standard coming of age quest novel I have absolutely no patience left for the magical bildungsroman any which also left me deeply disappointed in that Pat Rothfuss book Other people have held this up as a sterling example of subversion of genre tropes, but I just didn t get that from the text at all The nuances might be different, but this is still, at heart, a young person gaining a teacher, learning they are the subject of a prophecy, and going to defeat an evil lord Where I thought this was going to go, however the heroine realizing that rather than only defeating her opponent, she needed to upend the systemic problems that produced him ended up being only partially the case, and rendered the ending rather cheap and disappointing This was such a shock, actually, that it probably means I misread a lot of the book and should go through it again only I didn t enjoy the book enough to invest that extra time in it, I suppose.So, basically, a book whose ideas and arguments I fully respect, but at the same time a novel I didn t really enjoy much There was actually very little in the way of post apocalyptic imagery or themes in this novel, sadly Again, though, that was a problem with my own expectations, not Okorafor s work Apparently people have attacked her for glorifying female circumcision, which is insane Other people have attacked her for criticizing the practice, which is wrong headed in the opposite direction although in line with what she actually does in the book, I guess Either way, I feel like I need to emphasize again how painful and important her discussion of female oppression is. Onyesonwu is the outcast child of a mother who cannot speak above a whisper Her skin and hair clearly mark her as Ewu, a child of both Nuru and Okeke, a combination despised by Nuru and Okeke alike Her gender makes the only sorcerer in the village unwilling to teach her And her shapeshifting and nigh uncontrollable magic make her neighbors fear and hate her After her father dies and her magical powers manifest themselves at his funeral, she flees into the desert to avoid mob violence and to seek her nemesis the man who raped her mother, sired her, and has been trying to kill her ever since She is accompanied on her quest by four friends, her true love, and a herd of free spirited camels This is an ambitious but frustrating work Ambitious because it tackles head on issues of rape, child abuse, child soldiers, female genital cutting, adolescent sexuality, genocideOkorafor never flinches But frustrating because the main character is pretty unlikable, the plot is your classic bildungsroman, and the pacing is terrible Onye has a wide, bewildering array of magic powers that she seems to forget about just when the plot requires her to After three hundred pages of exhaustively described meals and screamed dialog, she solves genocide in the last, like, two pages And then there are something like three epilogues It s not great.Spoilers from here on out view spoiler Onyesonwu is not a particularly moral person She forces entire towns children included to relive her mother s rape She strikes another town again, children included blind She explodes an entire, occupied building She kills every fertile man, and forces every fertile woman to be pregnant with what, I m not sure When her best friends come to her for help, she turns into a vulture and flies away, rages at them, or dismisses them Once in a while, she ll actually have a conversation with one of her supposed bffs, but mostly she s either screaming at them or deriding them in her head I m not sure how much we re supposed to agree with Onyesonwu She does terrible, awful things to unnamed villagers, but then lauds herself for not killing her bio father the architect of all the attempted genocide of the Okeke And all the elderly sorcerers are like, wow, well done, you re so awesome What And I have no clue what actually happens at the end Onye rewrites the Great Book, which will apparently stop Nuru Okeke violence somehow, then gets captured and executed as was prophesied The person she was narrating this to even digs up her corpse and re buries her in the desert But then two epilogues later it turns out she turned into a Kponyungo, killed her guards, was never executed, and in fact flew away to the Great Greeny Jungle And then the epilogue says all the Nuru waiting to execute Onye are still waiting for her so they can execute her Even though they already did Argh, it makes my head hurt To me, it doesn t seem clever, it seems sloppy If she never died, then where did her corpse come from Plus, I don t get how her re write of the Great Book changed anything So she killed all the fertile men, made all the fertile pregnant, and gave all women magical powers Great What on earth is that supposed to do How would that possibly stop the war between Nuru and Okeke The book spends so much time talking about who each of her friends is sleeping with that the end of genocidal hatred comes in about three sentences It s just jammed into the end, as though the author suddenly realized she needed to wrap it up hide spoiler A number of reviewers have talked about how they struggled with how dark the book was how difficult it was to read accounts of rape and genital mutilation and racial genocide There would, I think, be something wrong with me if I didn t find reading about that sort of thing viscerally unpleasant, but all were integral parts of the book s world building, and while they may have made reading some sections an uncomfortable experience, they didn t detract from my appreciation of the work as a whole.What did detract was the characters, or specifically their relationships with each other The main character s relationship with her parental figures is positive, but they re soon pushed out of the spotlight not unsurprising, in a coming of age novel That leaves us with her relationship with her teacher who hates her her friends who continually mistrust and abandon her and her paramour who calls her woman instead of her name, tells her she s stupid, and orders her to shut up with distressing regularity All are constantly fighting and rarely seem to like or care for one another.The protagonist s romantic relationship was pretty much the breaking point for me I felt like I was constantly being told they were passionately in love, and then shown a couple that was, at best, passionately in lust and violently abusive toward one another And I simply couldn t reconcile Onye s actions toward Mwita with her presentation as a determined crusader against their society s misogyny.The plot itself was fairly standard prophecized quest fantasy until the end, when it veered off into metaphysics that seemed unsupported by anything that came before The world, in contrast, was unusual for the genre, and well drawn If the protagonists had been pleasant to spend time with, I would have appreciated the travelogue experience As it was, I had to grit my teeth to get through it.I might try something else by this author, if I was promised characters who actually enjoyed each other s company, but it wouldn t be high on my priority list. 0 Flawed, imperfect creatures sTo be something abnormal meant that you were to serve the normal And if you refused, they hated you and often the normal hated you even when you did serve themFirst buddy read with Marie LuftikusI was so looking forward to reading Who Fears Death but sadly, all I m left with is the disappointment If it wasn t for this being a buddy read, I would have DNF at 12% In the long run, we both agreed to call it quits at 50% Thank freaking goodness too, because it physically hurt just thinking about reading it No, I m not exaggerating It was God awful It was way to fast passed, it skipped over things to quickly, focused on things that didn t matter and not enough on the things that did, and it jumps all over the place Witch intern made it really confusing and hard to follow On top of that, it didn t keep my interest at all Really the only thing this story was about was rape, violence and a whole hell of a lot of hate It was so damn boring I repeat, it was so damn BORING The plot lacked everything, the writing style was terrible, and the character building was mediocre at best The characters were all really bland and the character building was basically non existing They had no depth, what you get is what you see I can t name one character, that I actually like or even enjoyed I will say, I couldn t stand the heroine Onyesonwu, she cried almost every other page I HATE whiny characters, I just can t deal with them and it s a complete turn off Another thing that really bugged me was how much the story emphasized her private parts It s only mentioned over a dozen times between 1% and 50% And honestly, it was unnecessary This was just NOT for me and I am truly elated to be done with it D This review actually sums up my feelings pretty well 2.5 stars, rounded up for what this book attempted to do, but it doesn t deliver on its promising setup start It s an ambitious novel, tackling the subjects that were stewing in Okorafor s mind weaponised rape, genocide, racism sexism, female genital mutilation, problematic cultures But it s strung together into a really flimsy plot with a boringly straightforward quest structure, with exposition dumps, few surprises along the way, and a flat moustache twirling villain who reminds me of Sauron than anything else And if you know me, one of my biggest irritations is villains who are painted in black or white absolutes for a book that tried so hard to show people overcoming the absolutes of racism, that there is no single people that is Evil , its depiction of the megalomaniacal villain is such a letdown Who Fears Death is only 400 pages which isn t that much for me , but it took me an entire week to get through, which isn t normal It was a bit of a slog towards the end What I liked The worldbuilding A post apocalyptic cyberpunk Africa is such a great idea, and I enjoyed the folklore mythology magic, so I wonder if e.g the prequel The Book of Phoenix might be better The characters Onye is flawed and no perfect infallible princess she has depth and flaws, her temper gets the better of her, and she makes some truly freaking bone headed mistakes Mwita is great, and his and Onye s roles are a nice inversion of the usual the hero is male and his female love interest is his eternal moral support And I really liked Aro he was a conservative sexist ass hat but you grew to like him a little, and I thought that was a much better portrayal of shades of grey than Daib, and how you can slowly change someone The feminism, though it could be on the nose heavy handed The mixed race issues.What I did not like The scenery chomping Eye of Sauron villain There s even a character I jotted down as African Gandalf Others have mentioned Lord of the Rings as a comparison for this book, and it s apropos Exposition city It happened every so often towards the start, but I found myself especially irritated when we got new infodumps at the 80 90% markers, filling us in on information that wasn t really foreshadowed and which the characters had purposefully withheld for most of the book No plot It s structured as a bildungsroman at first, then an episodic quest narrative that had a really vague end goal All of which meant the plot felt really meandering and aimless Too tidy climax After almost 400 pages, the whole thing is neatly resolved within a couple pages, with a magical handwave I don t consider it a real win, because it s too easy Sure, they d had losses along the way, but the final showdown was so anticlimactic and again, after 400 pages of chasing the metaphorical man in black, the fact that you never get to spend much time with Daib makes him an uninteresting villain Predictable Chosen One narrative, with an overpowered main character people who just roll along with a prophecy I actually really don t like Chosen One narratives, y all My kingdom for a novel where the Chosen One dies, stays dead, and their ordinary friends have to carry on the mantle There s other cliches to be annoyed by, too, like Onye view spoiler slaughtering entire villages of random civilians, but sparing her evil genocidal rapist father who absolutely had not learned the error of his ways and obviously wasn t going to turn over a new leaf, so See the TV Trope You could say that this is her character development, that she s learned to stop being so violent and to not let her temper run away with her but seriously tho, if anyone deserves death, it s the moustache twirling villain you ve been chasing all book. I m all about the hero consciously leaving the villain alive if a the villain is going through a redemption arc Darth Vader 3 , or b if leaving them alive is actually a worse punishment than clean death this happens in the tv show The 100 and it s amazing and chilling, sentencing this character to live with themselves while everyone else they ve ever known is dead and even then, this decision comes back to bite them in the ass I m not convinced Daib wouldn t be able to just dust himself off and try again hide spoiler Rating 4 of five The Publisher Says An award winning literary author presents her first foray into supernatural fantasy with a novel of post apocalyptic Africa 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 2017 UPDATE HBO BRINGS THIS TO TELEVISION VIA GEORGE RR MARTIN EXEC PRODUCING My Review Who fears Death I suppose most living things fear death Onyesonwu, our title character, is the product of a genesis no one should have to carry with them She is a child of rape, a product of brutality that should have made her mother hate her Instead, her mother names her who fears death and never from that moment on, despite the both of them being outcast and made into The Other, never fears anything again.I had a very hard time with this book, wanting to Pearl Rule it on average three times per reading session I did in fact abandon it when a major major major anti man hot button issue occurred near the end But this is what earns the book four stars from me I could not not read the rest I had to know why what happened, happened.Am I happy I read it Not really It was harrowing for me I don t like man bad woman good books There are two unforgivable things in my moral universe Abusing animals and rape I m no fan of supernatural magjicqkal stuff Onye s a shapeshifter What on the surface of the earth persuaded me to read this thing I mean, it s even praised by Luis Alberto Urrea forever I shoulda stood home, as the saying goes.But Dr Okorafor is a sorceress She cast a spell on me She reached out from inside this book and she made sure my brain needed to know this, and needed it so much I d overcome my prejudices and make it part of my mental furniture.I will step on her foot if I ever meet the Doctor in person.She set the book in a post nuclear holocaust Africa I love postapocalyptic fiction How am I gonna resist that And she made explicit a disdain for the rotten, evil souled uses of religion in oppressing and abusing people of all types I think I purred I know I smiled.It s also a joy and a pleasure to me to see women, and women of color, and women of immigrant parentage, enter the lists of American English language speculative fiction It makes me feel that this world has a shot at survival after all Writers are not ignored because of their bodily plumbing or skin color or weird names Sorry, but I m still an old white man, and this lady s name is really seriously weird to me This is the world I grew up wanting to live in, and now I get tofor a while anywayand that, than any other factor, made me stick with the book long past my usual stop.Should you read it Should you turn page after page of non European named characters, landscapes bursting with heat and searing miseries of spirit, heroes whose lives are blighted by origins beyond their control Yep. `Download ☘ Who Fears Death ⇖ An Award Winning Literary Author Presents Her First Foray Into Supernatural Fantasy With A Novel Of Post Apocalyptic Africa 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