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If you like ‘Humans’, you’ll like this

November 11, 2016

Nnedi Okorafor is an American African author and a professor of creative writing at the University of Buffalo, New York. The Book Of Phoenix is the stand-alone prequel to his novel ‘Who Fears Death’.

book-phoenixThe Book Of Phoenix begins in the near future, with the world partially drowned by global warming, but human life continuing to develop despite this. Okorafor paints a picture of a high-tech culture in what’s left of Manhattan, which is home to Tower 7. This unique building houses a centre of human/cybernetic genetic experimentation, run by the pitiless Big Eye corporation.

Big Eye enslaves people and ruthlessly experiments on them, producing high-tech prosthetics and even nanotech methods of procuring eternal life, which it sells to the world’s elite for mega-billions. Our heroine Phoenix is a product of this technology. She’s only two years old, but has the body and mind of an adult; actually she’s a super-woman, with unimaginable powers. Once Phoenix attains full knowledge of her capabilities, she realises that Tower 7 isn’t her comfortable home, it’s a prison.

Along with her friends Saeed and Mmuo, Phoenix devises a destructive escape from Tower 7, the story takes off, and so does Phoenix herself, pursued by the dreaded Big Eye. Phoenix and her friends begin a war against Big Eye, and become terrorist outlaws, hunted around the world.

Nnedi Okorafor has a stripped-down style, she employs short sentences and chapters, and often addresses the reader personally. Her main characters are African and Arabian, and a large part of the story is set in Africa. Phoenix is the most original book I’ve read in 2016, (so far), and really defies categorization. Part sci-fi, part folk tale, part horror, part parable…this book will be interpreted differently by every reader. Personally, I found it a compulsive page-turner.

 

Reviewed by Keith Smith

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