A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell….
The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.
Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.
Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.
But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
I read Who Fears Death and was absolutely blown away. The Book of Phoenix did not disappoint me! It wasn’t long, but it was excellent. I read it in a single day.
Nnedi Okorafor wrote this on her blog: “How do the stories connect? Who is Phoenix to Onyesownu and Onyesonwu to Phoenix? You’ll have to read them to find out. Don’t bother going in with expectations; you’ll probably be wrong. ;-).”
She’s not exaggerating; this prequel is set so far ahead of Who Fears Death that it could almost be a different story entirely. But this is not a bad thing, because wondering how everything fits together places a vice grip on your attention. Plus, separating the characters and story lines allows Okorafor to reinforce many of the themes from Who Fears Death while also introducing new ideas that are just as powerful. Who Fears Death stands on its own unquestionably, but this separation also means that the prequel doesn’t feel forced or extraneous.
In the beginning of the story, Phoenix is like a child, but she quickly becomes wise and intense. For this reason, we love her and become fiercely dedicated to her well-being and mission. She is strong, she is simultaneously sure and unsure of herself, and she is human. Many of the other characters are present in the story only fleetingly, but it works well, because in this story, it is the secondary characters who mold and shape the main character, and this process is what moves the story along.