The Book of Phoenix

DAW. (Who Fears Death). May 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780756410193. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698175167. FANTASY
OrangeReviewStarPhoenix was not born but grown in a laboratory. A shadowy corporation runs labs around the world, breeding individuals with extraordinary abilities. Phoenix lives in Tower 7 in New York City, sheltered from the outside world and content enough until her friend Saeed witnesses an atrocity in the lab and kills himself. Phoenix, whose power makes her burn like a sun only to be reborn, escapes her prison, determined to be free of the labs.
VERDICT This prequel to Okorafor's World Fantasy award winner Who Fears Death tells another fascinating tale of futuristic fantasy, although the labs give this tale a more sf feel despite the superhuman characters. Phoenix becomes a true heroine, leading other lab dwellers to freedom. Action, excitement, and exotic locales abound, but the book is grounded by its unflinching exposure of the brutalities of colonialism, racism, and greed, and exalted by the beauty of Okorafor's prose.

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