School Library Journal
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Gr 7-10-In the year 2070, the world is a dramatically different place in Niger, West Africa. Technology has excelled to an all-time height, magic has become a normal way of life, and certain people have developed superhuman powers as a result of environmentalist war-bombs. Ejii was nine years old when she witnessed the beheading of her power-hungry father by the Red Queen of Niger, Jaa. The area she lives in was under constant political turmoil between Jaa and Ejii's father, who preferred that women wear veils and be subservient to men. Now 14, Ejii begins to feel a mysterious pull toward the queen from her paranormal ability to "shadow-speak." As Jaa begins to get ready for her journey across the Sahara, Ejii prepares to follow her. Armed with just enough food to get by and a talking camel named Onion, she must cross the desert, fight against the perils of nature, and come to terms with her father's memory. Although slow paced, the novel does have some interesting qualities particularly in its feminist ideologies and sci-fi elements, such as storms that have an actual consciousness and human-eating foliage. The novel is a good choice for readers looking for adventurous futuristic fiction in a fascinating setting.-Marie C. Hansen, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
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.--Mattson, Jennifer Copyright 2008 Booklist