Remote Control #BookReview

Nnedi Okorafor | pub: 2021 |160 pages

In book bloggy places this book gets mixed reviews. That doesn’t completely surprise me. The content is a bit abstract, the plot just isn’t tossed at you. I figured that out early on but eh, I like a little variety in reading, I continued.

This is written by Nigerian author, Nnedi Okorafor, of Binti fame. Okorafor has also been asked to co-write a screenplay for Octavia Butler’s Wildseed. I mention this to offer some context on the genre. This is greater than your typical sci-fi, more African-futurism. Y’all know I’m not a huge YA reader and sure enough, I DNF’d Binti pretty early on. I have read most of Butler’s books, which I think leaned into the African futuristic space before it even existed as such. In my opinion, these books come with a heavy layer of gratuitous oppression, abuse, and disregard for black women. The women leads fail to know their worth or power until near the end of the story, when they launch an attempt to overcome in the final hour. If you’ve read one – you’ve read them all.

Enters Fatima, our main character in Remote Control, Fatima seems to be a distant child, that loves sitting in trees. One day, an alien seed falls to the ground and lands in her favorite tree. Somehow the seed grants her what we come to understand is the power of death. At some point, someone comes and removes the gift from the family home and this angers Fatima…and she kills her entire family and surrounding town. We are hearing the logic through the voice of a child so I’m not sure if she ever feels remorse over the incident, more like sadness due to her loneliness. After the incident, she forgets her name, or in an attempt to forget the incident, changes her name – either way, she starts on a journey to find the special seed with the new name Sankofa.

Sankofa can feel the seed calling her so she simply follows it everywhere with her fox companion that may have encountered the seed as well. We follow Sankofa from town to town as she interacts with families that allow her respite out of fear she may hurt them.

Pro: I found the story interesting. The author says she wrote the book during the pandemic, a time when a lot of us depended on electronic devices to stay connected to family, friends and business. In this story, when Fatima/Sankofa interacts with any electronic devices, they go haywire. She is only able to communicate verbally. If that doesn’t demonstrate Zoom fatigue, I’m not sure what does, Lol. I also liked the idea that Sankofa liked the power the seed gave her. She was consistently moving towards it and using it to her advantage. I’m sorry it was the power of death but listen, we all gotta go some time.

Cons: Admittedly, its a bit of a dark book. Also, cultural African norms are different than ours. I think a lot of things could get resolved with direct frank communication, meanwhile, they are all sitting around assuming things…so annoying!

Overall and interesting, short read and worth the investment of time. It almost made me rethink on giving Binti another shot. Almost. Goodbook!

If you like Remote Control – check these others out:


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