Death, Ghana, and Seeds REVIEWING Remote Control

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam! Sometimes I like to pick up random books to read while I'm at my local today I'm talking about one of those random reads: Remote Control.

Remote Control

Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Year: 2021
Genre: Speculative Fiction


"She's the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own."

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


I went into this book not knowing anything about it and with no prior experience reading any of Nnedi Okorafor's work. I was walking through my local library trying to find something quick to read for the two hours I'd be there. I stumbled across this on the shelves and thought: 1. this looks short enough for what I need right now, 2. this cover is beautiful, and 3. the author is known for fantasy/sci-fi writing - which are genres I greatly enjoy. Turns out this book basically WAS perfect for what I needed it for. I was nearly able to finish it in one sitting (had to take an extra 15 minutes at home to wrap it up since I didn't start on it right when I got to the library -- had to stumble across it first). I also found the premise and story very intriguing. This was a good read. 

This story follows a young girl who goes by the name of Sankofa. It begins with an incident in her later life as she interacts with people fearful of her. Then, it backtracks to her youth, establishing how her life changed into what it is. A young girl in Ghana discovers a mysterious seed that fell from the sky at the base of a tree that she loves at her family's home. Several events occur involving this mysterious object and eventually she is changed, before suffering from a major tragedy that changes her entire life. Following this, she must grow on her own, wandering and finding out who she is and where she might belong. 

Death is a prevalent theme in this book, so definitely don't go in expecting any kind of fairytale type experience. It is also very mysterious, which makes it rather compelling. That being said, this is a work of speculative fiction - not traditional science fiction. It is the kind of book that makes you wonder and think a bit and reflect. It isn't inherently challenging, but it's also not what I'd call a casual read. It is also a novella, so it doesn't have the length of a novel, naturally. The end is also....I wouldn't say inconclusive, but it is a bit mysterious and undetermined. I'm not quite sure WHAT happened. That doesn't bother me, though I think some other readers might feel unsatisfied as a result considering it's length. 

Nnedi Okorafor is lauded for her other works, winning several awards, and I thought this one was very interesting and well-written. I would definitely like to read more of her books. This feels like a book that I could have read in a speculative fiction course I took in college. It certainly would lend itself to discussion. I haven't read many stories that take place in Africa, so it was also refreshing to have a change in setting from the US - particularly New York and other big cities. There isn't a ton of science to be found here, so some science fiction readers may not entirely enjoy this one, but there was definitely plenty of speculative fiction elements that I could readily recognize. 

The pacing is steady, the mystery is intriguing, and I enjoyed reading about Sankofa's journey and abilities. It was easy to forget just how young she is as a character since she ends up carrying so many weights. I give Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯ stars. This is definitely an interesting read, but it won't be for everyone based on their idea of science fiction, preferred story length, and preference for ending types (cliffhanger vs. resolved vs. open to speculation). Thanks for joining me for today's review here at The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books to your screen and put in my two cents about them! See you at the next review!