Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Remote Control cover imageSummary: A girl finds herself with powers she did not ask for, without a name or a family.

Remote Control is the seventh book I have read by Nnedi Okorafor, but the first in the last four years. I continue to like this length of book, a long novella or a short novel. The print copy is 160 pages or just over 4 hours in audiobook. That length has enough time for real character development but tends to have a simpler plot structure and less fluff. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good long novel at times, but not every novel needs to be 350-450 pages.

Remote Control was written in 2020, and I think it reflects that time. It is a dark novel. Many of Okorafor’s novels have dark premises or realities to them. She Who Fears Death is a post-apocalyptic novel about a girl born after a violent rape. Binti is about an African Teen on her way to college on another planet and who witnesses everyone on the ship she is traveling on slaughtered before negotiating a peace. The Akata series is more for young adults and not quite as heavy, but it still deals with some difficult topics.

Remote Control opens with the protagonist, Sankofa, acting as a grim reaper type of character before going back and giving some back story and then moving forward with the rest of the story. This is a near-future sci-fi story. It is very much rooted in Africa, in this case set in Ghana.

I do not want to give away detail, or deter you from reading, but this is a story that is tragic. A young girl’s entire family and village are destroyed. In her innocence and youth, she blames herself. She is left to care for herself and manages to do so.

I suspect that the power is intended to have greater meaning than simply a stand-in for trauma. But I do think it can be read that way. As a child, the world happens around her, and she can only respond. As the story goes on, that response that she has developed to protect her can harm others. She does not want to harm others, but sometimes she is pushed too far, and sometimes nothing else can be done but protect herself.

There is not a nice little bow at the end. But if this was written as a metaphor for trauma, that is accurate to the reality of it.

I have not loved the narrators of some of Okorafor’s other novels, but I did like the narration and production of this one. It felt like an authentic accent without being faked. And it had a good sense of the emotion and development of the story from child to teen.

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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