Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

  • Title: Remote Control
  • Author: Nnedi Okorafor
  • Publisher: Tor.com
  • Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Novella
  • Age Range: Young Adult, Adult
  • Trigger warnings
    • chapter 3 — car accidents (graphic), death
    • chapter 4 — gore, descriptive imagery of dead bodies, death 
    • chapter 5 — assault, death, covid mention
    • chapter 7 — murder 
    • chapter 8 — murder, assault, death, car accidents (not graphic)
    • Please note, there are consistent triggers of abuse, starvation, and maltreatment. 
  • Rating:  ★★★★☆

I finished this book four days ago, and I’m honestly still thinking about it. As funny as it sounds considering I’m writing a blog post, I can’t put into words how wonderful it was! Remote Control is an African science fiction story, drawing on modern lives and the prospective future to tell a compelling and charming story. Despite being short, this novella packs a lot of punch, full of beautiful imagery and enchanting storytelling. 

Our story follows Sankofa, also known as Fatima, who journeys through Africa, on a journey of self discovery and the hunt for answers. Sankofa is known as the adopted daughter of death, travelling from town to town on the hunt for the cause of not only her abilities, but answers as to why she was chosen. Okorafor is a wonderful writer, seamlessly blending futuristic elements into a modern African setting. One of my favourite parts of this novella was the writing style. It was a wonderfully paced novella, picking up in the parts that needed it and slowing down in other parts, allowing the reader to cherish the world Okorafor created. 

The plot read like a folktale, offering mystery and intrigue into where it was heading. Some aspects of it were hard to follow, including the time jumps between months and years, as well as the age of our lead character, but other than those two factors it was a carefully plotted joy to read. It wasn’t necessarily a novella that kept me on the edge of my seat, but it was compelling in other ways. The writing is truly what kept me going, compelling me to turn page after page to continue to read the lush descriptions Okorafor favoured throughout the story. While I like an adventurous plot, this novella thrived in how careful and somewhat gentle it was. It made a nice change in my reading this month. 

One of the strong focal points of this novella is technology, and how it has seamlessly integrated into our society. In a technology-reliant world, our protagonist is stuck with one setback: she cannot use it. It almost felt as if the use of technology within this novel was an observation to where our society is heading – artificial intelligence and various other technologies. It points out how reliant we are on these elements, and just how difficult it would be to live without them. Difficult, but not impossible, as demonstrated by the journey Sankofa goes through. 

Ultimately, Remote Control is a lovely story about self discovery and loss. Filled with beautiful imagery and a compelling, slow-paced plot, it is a wonderful addition to your reading list this year. You will find yourself thinking about this book days after you first read it, with the desire to re-read it and pick up on any of the details you may have missed. This book is perfect for anyone who wants a charming, diverse sci-fi to read, especially if they want one that is unlike any that they have read. 

Links for Remote Control:  Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound 

 Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism for children and adults. Her works include WHO FEARS DEATH (in development at HBO into a TV series), the BINTI novella trilogy, THE BOOK OF PHOENIX, the AKATA books and LAGOON. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus and Lodestar Awards and her debut novel ZAHRAH THE WINDSEEKER won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. Her next novel, IKENGA, will be in stores August 2020.

Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel, including BLACK PANTHER: LONG LIVE THE KING and WAKANDA FOREVER (featuring the Dora Milaje) and the SHURI series, an Africanfuturist comic series LAGUARDIA (from Dark Horse) and her short memoir BROKEN PLACES AND OUTER SPACES. Nnedi is also cowriter the adaptation of Octavia Butler’s WILD SEED with Viola Davis and Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu. Nnedi holds a PhD (literature) and two MAs (journalism and literature). She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois.

Follow Nnedi: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

**Please note, this blog post will be updated with links to own voices reviewers when they are published. Thank you**

3 thoughts on “Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

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