I’m a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this book given that she’s done two things I normally hate. And yet, here I am breathless and in awe.
What an experience. Thing one: Whiny teenagers. I hate them in life. I hate them even more in prose. That’s just a part of life that is high on pointless drama and, ordinarily, the more accurately it’s captured, the more irritating it is to read (Lian Hearn’s Kaede may be the only fictional teenage heroine whose extended contemplation of suicide didn’t make me want to help her along just so I didn’t have to read any more about her). So, basically, if there’s a group of friends between 15 and 21, my expectation is that they’ll be annoying fucks caught up in their petty non-problems. And Who Fears Death does not disappoint. However, the selection of narrator makes all the difference. Onyesonwu has just as little patience as I do.
Thing two: The magic button solution. I’m sure there’s a more literary term for this. It’s pretty obvious throughout the entire book that there will be a magic button solution. I suppose it was possible that Who Fears Death could have gone the way of We the Living, but that seemed rather unlikely, what with Onyesonwu constantly being reminded of what the magic button was. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t – she never even puts on a wedding dress. However, the entire point of the journey isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. Something she describes so well that the ending didn’t detract from the overall effect.
So, there’s that. And the interesting takes on fantasy and romance tropes. And the unrelenting violence and misery of the world.