Book Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control is a gorgeous novella of impeccable worldbuilding. In a future Ghana in which people are glued to their phones, robocops patrol streets, and autonomous vehicles mingle with foot traffic, a mysterious corporation called LifeGen controls technology behind the scenes. A young girl the people call the Adopted Angel of Death, also known as Sankofa, has the power to end life and destroy any technology she touches after a strange alien artifact lands on Earth near the girl’s beloved shea tree on her family’s farm.

Loved everything about this book. Okorafor painted Sankofa as a complex character, doomed to wander from town to town with nothing but her pride, making connections and only to ruin them in the most devastating ways. She’s shown brilliantly as a child with experience beyond her years, and yet still a child whose closest companion is a fox, who climbs trees and talks to cats, who is asked to wear a hijab because of the awful things she has seen and done.

The worldbuilding in such a short space was stunning. Sankofa is an anachronism in a highly technical world, and you get the idea that there is much more going on than meets the eye; but it still feels as if a novella length is enough to tell the story. Okorafor’s world is rich in imagination, detail and folklore, layers of ancient and modern tradition, and thrumming with the incredible speed at which a community can turn into a violent mob when faced with something that does not belong in their world but cannot be stopped.  

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