Monday, March 16, 2009

Zahrah the Windseeker

I've finished. Actually it's been a bit ago. I'm delayed because I have been writing up a storm. It's good for the novel, but doesn't get the blog written.

Here it is:

Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Zarah is born with the distinctive dada locks, vines that grow throughout her hair. People born like this are said to have special powers but so far Zarah only feels different. Her only friend is Dari, a boy with boundless curiosity. After Zarah gets her first period, she begins to change, against her will she floats above her bed. It scares her. She keeps it secret from everyone until finally she tells Dari. And he encourages her to begin to explore her gift. The two set off on an adventure for Zarah to practice and learn her gift. They discover "windseekers" in a library and also a book about the Greeny Jungle, they break the rules to go pursue a Windseeker named Nsibidi in the Dark Market, it leads them to do the unthinkable and go into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. It is when Dari is bit by a war snake and succumbs to a coma Zarah has to face the jungle to save him and in the process face her own scary abilities.

The world that Okorafor-Mbachu creates along with the characters and their strengths are compelling, the story was infused with a flavor of folk tales through names, settings and the way the animals teach Zahrah things along her journey. I loved the way technology and nature are intertwined, and that ultimately the technology is nothing without the nature.

I was very excited to read this book. A fantasy book with the above cover. And many things about the book didn't disappoint me. I liked Zarah very much, even cared what happened to her. For all that I found the above compelling, I did not push through it with excitement and gusto. There was no sense of discovery for me. Each adventure seemed contrived from ideas instead of character. (I do it turns out read for character). There were a lot of details left unexplored. Why Nsibidi cuts her dada locks, for example. Also, the greeny Gorillas and their shunning of technology. Various other animals of the mysterious jungle. Zahrah's own resistance to her gift. Next time I hope Okorafor-Mbachu goes a little deeper into some of the themes that seemed so integral to her interesting ideas.

As always(so there it is, sorry it took so long),

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