Really cool universe!
Crossing the genre boundaries of both Afrofuturism and fantasy, Zahrah the Windseeker is the story of a girl born with dada hair, a sign of wisdom, mischief, magic, or horror, depending on who you talk to. In the culture of the Ooni Kingdom, any kind of difference, wise or not, is feared, even in a society where flora computers are grown personalized from seeds, where baboons named after gorilla kings tell the future, where injections are offered by directing special insects with proboscises imbibed with medication to sugar-solution-swabbed parts of one’s body, and where “civilized” is a synonym for “stylish.” Zahrah and her friend Dari are rebelling when they venture first into the secret Dark Market within the thriving marketplace of the Ooni Kingdom, and next into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle that borders the kingdom. When misfortune arises, the formerly conforming Zahrah must use every power she has to venture deeper into the jungle to save her friend.
The worldbuilding and setting of this book are amazing. While some could push aside the entire genre of Afrofuturism as just token diversity, this book proves that fantasy and sci-fi benefit immensely from taking place in colorful, colored settings and not the overdone, conventional, medieval settings or the sterilized, whitewashed, dystopian ones.
The plot is a rather basic childhood adventure, though I felt the setting and Zahrah’s dada powers made up for it by far. In fact, the plot allows you time to focus on the gorgeous setting, though some could be turned off by it at the beginning.
AMAZING! I loved it and recommend it to any who enjoy fiction and fantasy.
I remember reading this as a teenager and absolutely loving it. It's got creative worldbuilding, a well-characterized protagonist, and vivid and compelling imagery.
I love Nnedi Okorafor's work -- interesting, compelling cultures with a mix of plants and technology. This one is less disturbing than her books for adults, but has a nice mix of challenging adventures. She does a great job of letting the Zahrah come to her own conclusions, something everybody has to learn sooner or later.
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