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The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor Audiobook {4.5 Stars}

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor took me completely by surprise in the best possible way. I went in really not having any idea what to expect, and what I got was a near future sci-fi wrapped in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi starring a Nigerian anti-heroine who I grew to love in the way only fictional characters can make us love. I also was surprised that my new favorite narrator, Robin Miles, performed this audiobook and (not surprising) she was absolutely perfect. I am now completely hooked on this author and will be promptly diving in to the companion book!

Note: I received an audio copy of The Book of Phoenix from the publisher. Listening to an audiobook does influence my reading experience.

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor Audiobook {4.5 Stars}

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
Narrated by Robin Miles
(Who Fears Death #0.1)
Published by Audible, DAW on May 5th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 232 pages
Audio Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
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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.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • I read a lot of sci-fi, so imagine my delight when I continue to discover unique and fascinating settings that spur my imagination. The Book of Phoenix opens with a post-apocalyptic setting probably in Africa where people are scraping out a living and coming across caves of abandoned computers. We then jump to a near-future setting where a woman has been genetically engineered, along with a lot of other people, by a mysterious corporation. Her friend/crush was born eating things like concrete and glass and is poisoned by normal food, but was ‘enhanced’ by this corporation.
  • You all know that I am passionate about sci-fi and fantasy that focuses on groups strangely lacking in a lot of genre fiction, so I fell in love with this cast of all African characters. Phoenix of course was genetically engineered, but her human genetics come mostly from a Nigerian woman she thinks. We also get to see Nigeria and other parts of Africa along with Phoenix and it just makes me so happy to have such a wonderful book that also introduced me to this completely new-to-me perspective. It is tragic that I’ve never read a book with a Nigerian main character before, but it is true and I’m glad that I’ve been able to take a small step towards fixing that lack.
  • One of my main reasons for being so passionate about representation of every group of people imaginable is that they have fascinating and wonderful mythologies that make for great sci-fi and fantasy! The Book of Phoenix had clear inspiration from Nigerian myths that I’ve never encountered before, so everything felt like a breath of fresh air. I just get so bored with the same European-based fantasy over and over, and this is exactly what I want instead.
  • The narration of this audiobook is fantastic. Robin Miles also narrated The Fifth Season and Wake of Vultures, so as soon as I heard her voice, I got giddy. I had no idea that she narrated this one, but she does a perfect job. There are a lot of accents that would be challenging for many narrators, but she nails them and it was like roses to my ears.
  • The various super-human powers in this world are honestly too numerous for me to list, but trust me when I say they are unique and so cool. I loved that while all the superpowers were enhanced by the science corporation’s experimentation, a lot of these people were born with some ability that was a bit odd and then were captured and experimented on by the Towers. The Towers got up to some horrible things, but the characters that survive and join Phoenix on her journey are wonderful for having survived and flourished.

Weaknesses:

  • This was nearly a perfect book for me. Imagine my shock then when at the very end, we jump back to the post-apocalypse setting where this guy has been hearing the story of Phoenix, and he starts waxing poetic on the proper roles for women and men. It was all the typical stereotypes of women being calmer and better at this and men being fiercer and better at that, but stated as fact. I was so surprised and frustrated and confused. The character is never corrected and his opinions aren’t discussed further. It also just wasn’t really a necessary addition. Very strange.

Summary:

The Book of Phoenix is a sci-fi that everyone looking for something unique needs to read, but especially if you’ve gotten frustrated with the status quo of this genre and want to actively be part of supporting under-represented perspectives. If you enjoy audiobooks, you absolutely must listen to this one and revel in Miles’ amazing narration. I can’t get over how much I loved this experience.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.

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