Searching for Answers: A Review of Remote Control

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor book cover. Image on cover shows a photo of a young Afrian woman superimposed on a tree and some robotic gear on her torso.Title: Remote Control

Author: Nnedi Okorafor

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: January 19, 2021

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 156 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb:

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From here on 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?

Review:

Content warning: Violence, blood, menstruation, death of parents, death of a child. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

There’s never been a meteor shower quite like this one before.

This novella freely wandered between genres and settings. It was a folk tale set in the modern day. The dreamy fantasy elements of the plot sometimes wandered into science fiction territory. It had drones and cell phones, but it also had possibly magical creatures who followed Sankofa around everywhere. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I was often left guessing what might happen next.

Occasionally, I wished Sankofa would have been more straightforward about the connection between the strange seed that fell from the sky during a meteor shower and her becoming the adopted daughter of Death itself. Getting to know her better eventually changed my mind on this topic. Sankofa was quite young when these events happened, so it made sense that she didn’t explain them the same way an adult would. I won’t stop hoping for a sequel that might dive deeply into this part of the world building, but the way it was explained ultimately did make sense given who Sankofa was and what she’d been through.

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that explored what the main character learned during the course of her travels. Her experience with the seed gave her magical powers that even many adults would struggle to understand, and there was no one around to teach her how to use or control them. Seeing Sankofa gradually figure out the rules of her abilities was nearly as satisfying as watching her learn to accept what had happened to her and begin to take the first confident steps into adulthood.

Remote Control was a wonderful novella that should be read by new and old fans of Okorafor’s work alike.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Greatest Weakness

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A chalkboard that has the words yes and no written on it. The word yes is crossed out. Saying no to people is my greatest weakness. Sometimes I also have trouble reinforcing boundaries with people who won’t take no for an answer.

This is tied into my strong desire for peaceful interactions and my belief that there is a solution for every conflict out there.

Due to that, I do have a tendency to err on the side of peacemaking at times when I should be sticking up for myself better instead.

I’m working on changing this part of my personality.

It’s hard!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Kudos to whomever came up with this unique topic! I have not read these books and am only mentioning them because these occupations sound amazing.

 

Title and Author: The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Job: Carpet designer

Why I’m Interested: It’s quiet, intricate work that creates beloved family heirlooms.

 

Two dolls with fluffy white dresses. One has straight brown hair and the other has curly red hair.

Title and Author: The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent

The Job: Dollmaker

Why I’m Interested: Dolls bring so much joy to the world.

 

Title and Author: Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

The Job: Poet

Why I’m Interested: I used to write a lot of poetry. It’s harder than some people imagine it to be but quite rewarding when you finally figure out the right turn of phrase to make your point succinctly.

 

Title and Author: The Naturalist’s Daughter by Tea Cooper

The Job: Naturalist

Why I’m Interested: This specific naturalist studied the platypus, an animal I find utterly fascinating. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the first person from your culture to discover such a thing? I’d like to think he spoke to the people who already lived there about what they knew about the life cycle and physiology of the platypus.

A red and white lighthouse on a large rocky outcropping by the ocean. Part of the lighthouse is reflected in a puddle nearby.

 

Title and Author: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Job: Lighthouse Keeper

Why I’m Interested: It was generally quiet and peaceful work which appeals to this introvert quite a bit.  I’d have time to write stories or read books while I was on the job.

 

Title and Author: The Archivist by Martha Cooley

The Job: Archivist

Why I’m Interested: I adore organizing, cataloguing, and sorting all sorts of different things. Being an archivist sounds heavenly to me.

What I Include In My Content Warnings and Why

Anyone who has followed this blog for a little while has probably noticed the content warnings that appear in some of the book and film reviews I share. I recently realized that I’ve never blogged about what I do and don’t include in my content warnings here, so let’s discuss it.

Please note that I will be briefly discussing things like rape, murder, and violence later in this post to give examples of things I use content warnings for. I will not go into detail on any these subjects, but I always warn my readers in advance when sensitive topics come up. Keep reading at your own discretion.

The Purpose of Content Warnings

A rabbit sitting at the mouth of its den
The friendliest photo I could find online.

Content warnings are used to alert readers about potentially sensitive material so that they can decide for themselves if they would like to read or watch that content.

Trigger warnings are a specific type of content warnings that are used for subjects that may cause intense psychological symptoms in some cases.

The purpose of these warnings is to give people who have PTSD, anxiety, or other mental illnesses a heads up before suddenly diving into topics that may trigger flashbacks, panic attacks, or other mental health concerns for them.

Since just about anything can be a content or trigger warning for someone out there, it simply isn’t possible to forewarn everyone about anything that might be difficult for them to stumble across in a story or film.

What I Include in My Content Warnings

My goal when writing content warnings for the stuff I review here is to include topics that are widely known to be sensitive or triggering.

I generally warn my readers about the following topics:

  • Any form of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, etc.) against adults, kids, or animals
  • Blood and gore
  • Descriptive medical procedures (needles, surgery, amputations, etc).
  • Violence
  • Kidnapping or abductions
  • Death or dying (including pets/animals)
  • Pregnancy or childbirth (especially if it has a tragic outcome)
  • Self-harm or suicide
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, etc.
  • Mental illness

There have been a few times when readers contacted me privately to ask for clarification for a content warning or to see if something not on this list was included in the book or film I’d reviewed. I’m always happy to answer those questions.

While I do have a spoiler-free review policy in general, I think it’s helpful to let folks know in advance about topics they might need to emotionally prepare for before reading or watching what I recommend here.

How Do You Handle Content Warnings?

Three sketches of humans with round heads and torsos. Each one has a speech bubble above them that is blue, purple, or a combination of the two colours.Do you use them? Why or why not?

If you use them, what topics do you include in them?

Are you open to answering readers’ questions about the content of the stuff you review if they would like to know in advance if something not on your list was mentioned in the book, film, or other piece of media you reviewed?

I can’t wait to hear how all of you handle this topic on your sites and in your reviews.

 

What Bears Do in the Woods: A Review of The Ursus Verses

Title: The Ursus Versus Author: Nathan Waddell Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: October 29, 2020 Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Length: 66 pages Source: I purchased it. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: Do you like bears and black holes and squid monsters and dragons and cowboy dragon slayers and riding your bike all around town looking… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl Honestly, I haven’t read that many humorous books recently regardless of if we’re talking about tales published last year or thirty years ago. I’ll share a few funny books I have read and hope I can get some great ideas for other reads from everyone else’s posts today. Solutions… Read More

Subreddits That I Love

Thank you to Iniverse for giving me the idea for this response post. Go read about the subreddits this blogger enjoys before continuing on here. Reddit is a site filled with a massive series of message boards on every topic you can imagine and then some. Each topic is separated into its own page there… Read More

Heading Home: A Review of Abominable

Content warning: vomiting and references to the death of a parent. I will not be discussing these things in my review. Abominable is a 2019 American animated children’s fantasy film about three teenagers who travel from Shanghai to Mount Everest in the Himalayan mountains to return a kidnapped Yeti they nicknamed Everest to his home. They… Read More