A Handful of Books

A few sentences I want you to know about a handful of books I read recently:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James: I wanted to like this one, as I enjoy the podcast “Marlon and Jake Read Dead People” quite a bit. However, I found it to be a slog. Repetitive imagery meant to shock, I think, and what I think is some purposeful confusion as to timeline and such, perhaps to help ensure the book is treated as literary fiction and not genre fiction.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: I could not put this thing down. I was getting sideways looks from my wife because I was supposed to be helping her, you know, raise kids and maintain a house. Despite its name, dragons are more of an off-camera looming threat than a feature. A caste system plays a much bigger role in engendering rage here. The sequel comes out in November, and I am very excited about it.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: It was billed to me (via /r/fantasy) as simply “magic school set in Nigeria”. Multiple people recommended it. I can be a bit of a sucker for magic school stuff, and, after reading a bit more, it sounded like it was going to be very different from any magic school book I’ve read previously. It was, and I loved it. As I said, I enjoy magic schools, and I am not ashamed to say I love your typical, European-style take on magic. This is not that. I found the Nigerian influence in this book to be exciting, and refreshing. In fact, I wanted more, as you’ll see. (It is YA, in case that matters to you.)

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: The sequel to Akata Witch, it is at least as good, possibly better than the first book. I rolled right into it as soon as I finished Akata Witch. More schooling, more magic, more magical.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor: Can you tell I dig Nnedi Okorafor? This book is decidedly not YA. Very much not YA. It is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the Sudan, though technology and the apocalypse feature little. It is about control and suppression of a people, control and suppression of women, and sorcery. It felt like it bore some relationship to the Akata series, and so felt natural to read immediately following those two. (Worth noting: It won the World Fantasy Award in 2011.)