Book review: The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

the-book-of-phoenix-cover-art

Nobody really knows who wrote the Great Book.

If asked to describe The Book of Phoenix in one sentence, I would say that it is a cataclysm in the form of a book. Like the protagonist, the pages seem to burn and burn and burn until they are etched onto the heart. Every page is full; every page breathes life and death and rage and love, and I finish it feeling scorched and elated.

I could talk about the story, that of Phoenix Okore who was a genetic experiment and a captive, who became so much more (fugitive, villain, lover, sister, goddess, beacon, rogue) and who both escaped and accepted everything that she was. About the characters, a wonderful cast of people who are so very real even when they are able to eat metal, walk through walls or grow wings. About the fact that every time I was forced to put this book down, I found myself thinking about colonialism and racism and exploitation and modern slavery and what it means to be complicit; about all the ways in which we find ourselves accepting the unacceptable so long as we do not have to see it. About the world, which was simultaneously very different from ours (a mixture of magic and science-fiction) and so close that you could cut yourself on it. About the relationship between technology and nature. About the nature of stories.

I could talk about those things and I could talk for hours because The Book of Phoenix is an exquisitely crafted tale that holds all of those things (and more) together like a spiderweb. But I’m not going to, because this is a book that needs to be felt. It needs to be read and absorbed and allowed to shake you all the way down your spine. And then, then it needs to be talked about, and I don’t know quite how to do that on my own.

So, read this book; it is a beautiful and original piece of speculative-fiction full of all kinds of fire. It is the first thing I have read by Nnedi Okorafor, and I have every intention of finding all of her other work and reading it too, because if it is anything like The Book of Phoenix it will be worth my time and my money ten times over.

Rating: burn the house down and start a revolution.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Boor Reviews: announcement and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor | Meredith Debonnaire

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