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The Shadow Speaker Hardcover – October 2, 2007


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Hardcover, October 2, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Okorafor-Mbachu’s second novel opens in Saharan Africa in the year 2070, then takes its 14-year-old heroine on a quest to the world first introduced in Zahrah the Windseeker (2006). Years after an act of bioterrorism on earth, its most dramatic effect, the opening of a border with the planet Ginen, has just materialized. An untrained “shadow speaker,“ Muslim teen Ejii is compelled by otherworldly voices to help avert a war between the newly joined worlds. There are too many distracting way stations on Ejii’s journey, but readers who appreciate invention for its own sake will delight in Okorafor-Mbachu’s world building, especially the plant-based technology that allows mansions to spring from “abode seeds” and phone calls to be transmitted via gourds. Many will also embrace the novel’s complicated characters, especially its women, and the unusual appearance of African, Muslim traditions in a science fiction context. Fans of Nancy Farmer’s The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (1994) will want to give this a try; later, introduce the same readers to Nalo Hopkinson’s groundbreaking, Caribbean-influenced science fiction for adults. Grades 5-8. --Jennifer Mattson

About the Author

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a journalist who made her fiction debut withZahrah the Windseeker. Her short stories have won many awards, and she earned her PhD in English at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; 1 edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423100336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423100331
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nnedi Okorafor is a novelist of Nigerian descent known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi's work titled "Weapons of Mass Creation", The New York Times called Nnedi's imagination "stunning". Her novels include Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), The Shadow Speaker (winner of the CBS Parallax Award) and Long Juju Man (winner of the Macmillan Writer's Prize for Africa). Her latest novel, Who Fears Death (DAW Books, 2010), is a dark, gritty magical realist narrative that evenly combines African literature and fantasy/science fiction into a powerful story of genocide and of the woman who reshapes her world. Nnedi holds a PhD in English and currently is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. Visit Nnedi at nnedi.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C.C. Ekeke on November 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The shadow speaker's story begins in the year 2070, in Niger, West Africa. The time is after the Big Change. Ejii is a shadow speaker. This means that the shadows tell her stories of the people around her. This is very powerful magic; many people fear those with this power. Ejii is identified as a shadow speaker by her unusual eyes. She finds herself feeling isolated because of this and the fact that her father's children with other wives are treated as more important. Her father does not help her feelings of self-worth. He plans to marry her off to a lowly, lazy son of a baker. Ejii does not want this. Her father has claimed himself to be in charge of her people. He takes away women's rights and puts them in a lower status. To do this, he superseded the power of queen Jaa.

When queen Jaa comes to town with her two husbands, she immediately beheads Ejii's father and takes back control. Unfortunately, Ejii had to witness this. Still she is relieved to have her father's rule ended. She is sad because he was not always the evil, control hungry person that he had evolved into. Ejii is dealing with her own issues of who she and has not come to realize her worth. Queen Jaa wants to apprentice Ejii to her. Her mother feels that at 14 years of age, Ejii is still too young. Ejii feels pulled to leave, especially when the shadows tell her that she must go to help prevent a war.

Ejii leaves with her family's talking camel named "Onion." Along the way, she meets Dikeogu, a young man with a mysterious past. He was sold into slavery by his parents because they feared his powers. Dikeogu tries to hold on to his secrets. Having been betrayed by those close to him, he is afraid to trust.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Guy L. Gonzalez on August 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
In The Shadow Speaker, Nnedi Okorafor spins a wildly imaginative, entertaining and nicely balanced coming of age tale unabashedly set in a fantastical Africa of the near-future where alternate worlds have collided and the threat of war looms on the horizon.

Okorafor's impressive world-building alone is noteworthy enough, but her nuanced characters are what really makes the story work, and its star, 14-year-old Ejimafor (Ejii) Ugabe, is an excellent and much-needed addition to the lily white ranks of Young Adult fantasy heroines. In fact, Okorafor's world is populated with a number of strong female characters, each one a believable and complex mix of strengths and flaws, and its mythological underpinnings draw from African cultural influences.

Don't mistake the YA label as for kids only, though. While Okorafor's style is very accessible, it doesn't mean her ideas (or execution) lack substance. The Shadow Speaker is a worthwhile read for fans of imaginative fantasy novels, as well as those who just enjoy a good story well told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on July 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love Nnedi Okorafor. After reading her other works, I was excited to read this story about a strong female character in a world as foreign and fantastical as the Africa portrayed in this book. I have struggled to find YA fantasy novels with black protagonists and writing to satisfy my reading hunger. Time and time again, Nnedi delivers for me with novels that are more than just good stories; they are good stories that give readers something to talk about.
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By Joan A. on June 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Nnedi. Her books are delightful, full of life lessons in a fantasy setting. She makes you step back and look at human nature, and hopefully learn something....if you are willing. Highly recommended.
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By BookGirl3443 on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is, by far, one of the most beautifully written sci-fi/fantasy novels I have read in a long, long time. I also loved that it was set in Africa, and combined science and magic. The best of all worlds! This book is worth reading.
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