Zahrah the Windseeker (Nnedi Okorafor)

Zahrah the Windseeker is young adult novel by Nnedi Okorafor.

Plot:
Zahrah is dada. Mostly that means that there are flowers growing in her hair and that people look at her weirdly – but dada people are also rumored to have special powers. But nobody is more suprised than Zahrah when that turns out to be true and she starts to fly. With the help of her best friend Dari she starts to explore her abilities in secret – in the Forbidden Jungle. But when Dari is bitten by a snake, it’s up to Zahrah to seek out a elgort egg, the one thing that might save his life.

Zahrah the Windseeker has a nice coming of age story with a sweet message. But it’s really the setting that makes this book special and fascinating. For one thing, it’s set in an African world, which is rare and interesting by itself. But the marriage between nature and technology (there are CPU plants. How awesome is that?) is amazingly perfect.

Zahrah is a really nice heroine and her story is a great coming of age story. She slowly overcomes her fears and learns to accept herself as she is. It’s not some sudden realisation, but a process and you’re fully invested in seeing her achieving everything. But it’s not the most innovative plotline.

Which is perfectly alright, especially since the setting is so extraordinary. Okorafor has developped an extremely intriguing world, with a lot of small details that might be completely normal lore for someone who is from Africa (like all animals being able to talk – I think that’s something that’s not really being done in “Western” fiction) but are definitely new for European me. And I just loved the technology that literally grows on trees concept. CPU plants. Raising and shaping plants into houses. Petals as money. And at the same time there’s still this general distrust when it comes to “wild” nature, which seems rather contrary – the Forbidden Jungle is forbidden because it’s not tamed, it has not been cultivated. Fascinating.

Summarising: I think teenagers will appreciate the plot very much. Everybody else can soak up the setting, which just really got my imagination going.

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