cover image The Book of Phoenix

The Book of Phoenix

Nnedi Okorafor. DAW, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1019-3

This haphazard prequel to Okorafor’s postapocalyptic first novel for adults, Who Fears Death, explores the circumstances that led to that apocalypse. Phoenix is a three-year-old biological weapon who looks and acts like a 40-year-old woman. Escaping from the facility where she was created, Phoenix flees from a malevolent organization bent on recapturing her and bending her to their will. While this installment answers burning questions from Who Fears Death, it lacks much of the nuance and intrigue that make the author’s other work so beloved. Okorafor once again creatively melds European and African mythologies into a fresh hybrid, but the wonder and magic aren’t enough to distract from the flat characterization and bland narration. This tale of oppression is brimming with anger, but without a compelling reason to care about the characters, Okorafor’s vital larger messages are lost. (May)