book review

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

A symbolism heavy fairytale about a dangerous young girl.

Fatima’s happy childhood is changed when the green light from the sky enters her. Now she’s known as Sankofa, hailed as the adopted daughter of Death, and forced to wander the roads in search of acceptance.

I bought this book after receiving an email from Tor describing it as parasitic body horror. I love me some parasitic body horror. However, it’s not an accurate description for Remote Control. It’s barely even science fiction, despite its near future setting. Perhaps magic realism is a more accurate label, though I think of it as a fairytale.

The idea is fantastic. A young girl can bring death with a touch. Rife with symbolism about the fear of female power, I loved that Sankofa could wander Ghana unmolested (well, people tried but she could protect herself). Her gift had its benefits as well as its downsides.

The setting is also great. I loved the location of Ghana, the mixture of old and new technologies, clothes, lifestyles. The repeated use of Shea trees incorporated all the senses into the narrative.

The Sankofa bird is a mythological bird that has its feet firmly planted forward as it turns its long neck over its back to protect the egg of the future. It’s all about understanding your past so you can make the most of the present and improve the future. It’s the theme of this novella and an important part of Sankofa’s journey.

Unfortunately, despite all the positives, I found the style of writing distanced me from the characters, especially Sankofa, and I found it difficult to connect with the story in any way rather than an intellectual way. The action becomes more immediate near the end, and I did feel for Sankofa, but I was left wondering at all the hidden meanings I’d missed rather than feeling satisfied with having read a well rounded story.

I award Remote Control

Remote Control is available for $8.64 ebook and $19.99 print book on Amazon.

9 thoughts on “Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor”

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