- Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: DAW; Reprint edition (February 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780756407285
- ISBN-13: 978-0756407285
- ASIN: 0756407281
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 302 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Who Fears Death Mass Market Paperback – February 4, 2014
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Praise for Who Fears Death:
"Haunting and absolutely brilliant. My heart and guts are all turned inside out." —John Green, New York Times-bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars
"Who Fears Death is one of the most striking, chilling, truly fascinating, and all-around remarkable novels I've read in a very long time.” —Peter S. Beagle, bestselling author of The Last Unicorn
"Nnedi Okorafor is American-born but her Nigerian blood runs strong, lacing her work with fantasy, magic and true African reality. Many people need to read Who Fears Death, it's an important book." —Nawal El Saadawi, bestselling author of Woman at Point Zero
"To compare author Nnedi Okorafor to the late Octavia E. Butler would be easy to do, but this simple comparison should not detract from Okorafor’s unique storytelling gift." —New York Journal of Books
"Both wondrously magical and terribly realistic." —The Washington Post
"Believable, nuanced characters of color and an unbiased view of an Africa full of technology, mysticism, culture clashes and true love." —Ebony Magazine (editor's pick)
"A fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Beautifully written, this is dystopian fantasy at its very best. Expertly exploring issues of race, gender, and cultural identity, Okorafor blends future fantasy with the rhythm and feel of African storytelling. " —Library Journal (starred review)
"Her pacing is tight. Her expository sections sing like poetry. Descriptions of paranormal people and battles are disturbingly vivid and palpable. But most crucial to the book's success is how the author slowly transforms Onye's pursuit of her rapist father from a personal vendetta to a struggle to transform the social systems that created him." —The Village Voice
"Okorafor is a master storyteller who combines recent history, fantasy, tradition, advanced technology, and culture into something wonderful and new that should not be missed." —RT Book Review (top pick)
About the Author
Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She has been the winner of many awards for her short stories and young adult books, and won a World Fantasy Award for Who Fears Death. Nnedi's books are inspired by her Nigerian heritage and her many trips to Africa. She lives in Chicago with her daughter Anyaugo and family. She can be contacted via her website, www.nnedi.com, or on Twitter at twitter.com/nnedi.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-3 of 302 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Onyesonwu is a formidable human being. She is strong and angry. She has power. She is not particularly feminine, and yet also incredibly woman. She is both good and bad, but mostly good. It is hard to wrap your head around her character, but she also finds it hard to wrap her head around her own self, so this isn't surprising. The result is that even though she is magical and powerful, she is also extremely human, and very beautiful.
The other characters in the story begin as very two-dimensional, but as it progressed, I found myself surprised by how much I either loved or hated them. This helped reinforce the theme that all people are human, that no one deserves to be treated a specific way based on superficial impressions, and that the world can always use more compassion.
If you take only one of my recommendations ever, let it be this one. Read this book.
Who Fears Death. A great title, and the name of our protagonist as well; Onyesonwu. Nnedi Okorafor's powerful story takes place in a future Africa. How far into the future is not made clear, but the setting is very interesting. Computers and GPS systems still linger, and though they are used, no one seems to know exactly how they work. The exact setting is revealed near the end, but I won't mention it here. It feels like something to discover on your own.
Onyesonwu is Ewu, a child of violence; born of rape. She is a result of the genocide by the Nuru people against the Okeke. Blinded by the writings of the Great Book, the Nuru people seek to exterminate the Okeke, and harm them by any means necessary. Even the horrors of weaponized rape. A term that I'd not heard before this book, and one that forces you to think on the evils in this world. To change her world, and wipe away these evils, Onyesonwu must rewrite the Book, and confront her murderous father to do so. The story is often hard to read, but always compelling; and the characters that fill it (Mwita, Luyu, Najeeba, and all the rest) bring it to life.
Okorafor hits an intriguing mix between the fantastic and the real; I've heard it called 'magical realism'? I suppose that's as good a descriptor as any. I was impressed, and didn't put it down often. I'll be reading more of her work.
There were so many issues that this novel tackled. It deal with colorism, ethnic identity, rape, sexism, religion. And there are some readers out there who’re not able to handle this many issues getting thrown at them at once. They want something simpler to devour. I think that’s the case because often the people saying this don’t understand intersectional identities or even want to grasp the concept of it. Every character in this book is a crossroads of problems and issues. To me, their depth comes from the fact that they’re not just defined by one problem. They have many problems, many societal obstacles to deal. That is part of the richness of this book.
Rape is largely at the center of this story and make no mistake, it is no glorification or justification of it. This tackles it head on, brutally and unapologetically as such a subject should be. The descriptions and violence honestly made me cringe and I’ve never been a victim of such a brutal act. The images contained within this novel are so powerful that I wonder if it would actually trigger something in a rape survivor. I don’t know. I just know that what I read was violent, bloody and held back on no details. And the consequences of rape (side note: how despicable is it that we have consequences for a victim?) are laid out in this book with a harsh, revealing light.
The rape that sort of propels the story forward is the tragic sexual attack on Najeeba. She is a beautiful Okeke (an ethnic group I’ll talk more about later) woman and is seemingly living a simple life. One day her village is attacked by a group of Nuru (the other main ethnic group) and Najeeba is viciously raped. It’s a tough scene to read and I can only imagine it being a tough scene to write. It’s one of those scenes where you have to take a break and get a glass of water after you’re done. I can’t speak for the author, but man this must have been an emotionally draining scene to write just because of how brutal it is. Najeeba’s bastard attacker has the nerve to sing, to damn SING as he’s brutalizing a woman. I don’t know why but that particular detail just raises such anger in me. Najeeba manages to survive her rape, but she is rejected by her cowardly husband so she leaves home.
Now about these ethnic groups. Okeke and Nuru in the simplest of terms are dark-skinned and light-skinned, slave and slave master. The relationship is definitely one based on colorism, but it also has its roots in some of the justification used to enslave Africans in America. In this post-apocalyptic world there is The Great Book, the religious text that everyone draws their social mores from. In this book, it is basically outlined that Okeke are shameful and deserve to be slaves of the Nuru. Sound familiar? The same kind of justification was used by whites to enslave blacks when they referred to us as descendants of Cain, the first murderer. Religion was used to enslave it and it is used in this story to enslave the Okeke. This book is used to justify the mistreatment, rape and murder of the Okeke people, driving many of them to the East where they live as exiles.
This brings me to the main character, Onyesonwu, the daughter of Najeeba. She is neither Okeke nor Nuru. Because of her mixed blood and the circumstances of her birth she is called an Ewu. It is believed that the child of a violent rape is doomed to live a life of violence themselves. I think this is a statement on the danger of eugenics because how many articles are we starting to see pop up now that are trying to link personality traits and behavior to genetics? It’s a slippery slope and if we’re not careful we could be making our own Ewus in society.
So you can’t help but to feel bad for Onyesonwu. She’s getting it from all angles. Of course she deals with ridicule as being the child of a rape and all the stereotypes that come with that. Internally, she’s dealing with issues of wondering if she’s anything like her Father. She has to deal with being thought of as romantically unattractive and as just lest aesthetically pleasing to the Okeke people she lives amongst. To top it all off, she’s a strong-willed woman living in a society where women are regarded as less than. I think the deeper part of all of it, is that her very existence serves as a reminder of the violence and torture that the Eastern Okeke have tried to put out their minds. She’s a constant reminder of the brethren they have abandoned. It’s so true that the things we hate are often because they remind us of something ugly in ourselves.
I don’t want to give too much away, but Onyesonwu’s journey reminds me very much of the character of Aaang in some ways. The group of friends she gathers and the journey she embarks really does ultimately change the world she’s operating in. If a love of Airbender isn’t enough to get you to pick up this book it’s a post-apocalyptic African fantasy. Those three words alone should spike your interest. Ultimately, this is a book that tackles powerful topics that are so relevant to today’s world. Like I said, I walked away from this story depleted and I think that’s because even as I was whisked away to another world I was forced to still think about my own.
This and other reviews can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/rrapmag