Book Review – Noor

This is my first book review of 2023! I’m going to prioritize reviewing the books I have most recently read and then backfill with reviews of books read in 2022 when I don’t have anything else ready to go.

This review is for Noor by Nnedi Okorafor and is the second book that I’ve read by this author. I previously reviewed Binti here. Unlike Binti, which is a collection of shorter linked stories, Noor is a full novel.

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Here is the blurb:

Anwuli Okwudili prefers to be called AO. To her, these initials have always stood for Artificial Organism. AO has never really felt…natural, and that’s putting it lightly. Her parents spent most of the days before she was born praying for her peaceful passing because even in-utero she was wrong. But she lived. Then came the car accident years later that disabled her even further. Yet instead of viewing her strange body the way the world views it, as freakish, unnatural, even the work of the devil, AO embraces all that she is: A woman with a ton of major and necessary body augmentations. And then one day she goes to her local market and everything goes wrong.

Once on the run, she meets a Fulani herdsman named DNA and the race against time across the deserts of Northern Nigeria begins. In a world where all things are streamed, everyone is watching the reckoning of the murderess and the terrorist and the saga of the wicked woman and mad man unfold. This fast-paced, relentless journey of tribe, destiny, body, and the wonderland of technology revels in the fact that the future sometimes isn’t so predictable. Expect the unaccepted.


I liked this novel, but I think I was more engaged overall by the story in Binti. Our protagonist in this tale, AO, has her world changed after a sudden violent event sends her on the run. Yet she is far from helpless since she has been equipped with three cybernetic limbs and other internal modifications as a result of birth defects and additional trauma earlier in her life. She meets DNA, a nomadic shepherd, in the northern desert and recognizes him as a a fellow outsider. Their efforts to escape additional persecution are thwarted and they must keep fleeing the authorities in a world overseen by nearly omniscient corporations.

One reason why I wanted to read this book was because I knew that it was set in Africa and that the author was also of Nigerian descent and I try to read books with a variety of cultural influences. I just read more about the author before writing this and discovered that she was also paralyzed due to medical complications when she was a teenager, but eventually regained the ability to walk, which makes her choice to have AO disabled in a similar fashion in her backstory more personal.

The opening of this book grabbed my attention right away and the protagonists are easily made sympathetic as the victims of terrible situations. The near future technology was well-imagined and integral to the plot. The themes of corporate greed, privacy, and climate change are also laced into the story.

One small aspect of this story that I really enjoyed was how much DNA valued his remaining cattle, taking his steer along with them on the entire journey. They are so much a part of his way of life that he would never consider leaving them behind.

I did think that the ending of the book was a little rushed, but I also don’t want to give spoilers here so I’m not going to go into detail on that. But it was an overall enjoyable and pretty quick read and I’ll probably pick up something else by the author in the future.

Have you read Noor or any other book by Nnedi Okorafor? Did the setting entrance you or put you off? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alexis Alvarez
    Jan 10, 2023 @ 21:51:26

    This sounds like one I would enjoy. Have you read “Who Fears Death”? It’s brilliant. Read it years ago, and it haunts me still! I definitely want to reread.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: January Reading Update | Clare L. Deming

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