Book Review #4 Zahrah the Windseeker
This is Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor! A Young Adult fiction about a young girl with dada hair! Dada hair, being those thick locks you see above, is abnormal, but not unheard of in this world! Rumors said people with dada hair were very wise, and others claimed they brought misfortune!
No more ! throughout this entire review. If you noticed them and they bothered you at all, they’re EVERYWHERE in this novel. Don’t get the kindle version, either. So many typos, I don’t even want to make a discussion about it.
Zahrah is a young girl who is constantly teased about her hair. Vines grow from the thick locks and she has to put rose oil in it all the time, or her head will itch. The world is like ours, but plantlike. They use petals as currency and flower bulbs as… well… light bulbs. Everything is a plant. Even laptops. They’re plants that grow with you, learning more and becoming faster and better with you. That part is kind of neat because I’d love my computer to get better with age. Instead, it dies before the new version comes out.
Zahrah is the outcast, loved by her family, and by one friend, Dari. Dari is the popular kid in school. Very smart, very kind… You know, the typical popular kid. (pretend that was in a “sarcasm” font). They’re best friends, and they do everything together. Dari does daring things out of sheer interest. The first we hear of is the Dark Market, where weird and unnatural things are sold. Zahrah ends up going, almost against her will, so she can get her rose oil. If the author did well with one thing, it was character development. These are all very strong characters, strong in their parts and growth throughout the novel. Zahrah, like I said, didn’t want to go to the Dark Market. She was afraid, but she went. A sign of perseverance. Throughout this novel, she’s scared of everything: The Dark Market, a place called the Forbidden Greeny Jungle, kids at school, and her hair. Full of insecurities… Until…
She wakes up, and she is in the air.
Odd twist, yeah? Well, her and Dari look it up and discover that a few dada hair people could fly, known as Windseekers. Now, see, dada are already rare, so few of these people… you can grasp that I’m sure. That’s like me and… you… and this girl…
But she can’t fly yet. She just floats. So, to “practice” where no one will see, the two somehow get the idea to go into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle, the place no one seems to even look at out of fear for what is inside. Dumb kids. Dari thinks he knows a ton about it, at this point, after reading through this field guide that not even the library really accepted the existence of.
Dari gets bit by a snake.
This is where I thought, THIS is where the story begins. The novel was cute, this far, but this is where I said “I know what’s gonna happen.” Doctors said the only cure was in the yolk of this egg that could only be found… you guessed it… in the Jungle. They found that out in one of the many field guides that this group of people wrote many years ago, but because they’re dumb and didn’t research anything themselves, that’s all they have. No one’s gone into the jungle, or left their town/city/country.. whatever it is. Yes, this world has fun doctors. Oh, but Earth exists, by the way. I hated this fact, because as close to our world as this one was (just more magical and plantlike) the fact that the same exact world exists, was kinda…. eh… It would be like going to Mars and finding out that everyone there is living exactly like we are, except everything runs off solar power and rocks. That’s no fun.
So, naturally, Zahrah decides to go in the jungle with a goal–get the egg. She used the field guide to learn all she could about surviving and, let me tell you, for a published field guide… I… just…. no. Sounded like it was written by a five-year-old. I’d give an example, but I’ll update it with one later, when I can get to the book.
So Zahrah experiences a lot of new things from man-eating plants to talking jaguars. She finds the egg she needs (from this elephant-like beast called an elgort) and it gets quite close to killing her. Angry momma.
Let me back up a second. Throughout all this time, she’s used a compass that talks to her (technology) and a digital version of this field guide. Technology is a huge thing in this world. Lucky for her, these things don’t need batteries. She’s in the jungle for about three weeks or so before she finds this egg. She meets gorillas they consider to be people because they live like people (without technology, though) and they take care of her for a couple days. She talks to a wood wit, a thing that puts a face on a tree, and a talking frog that knows everything.
Odd world, great storyline.
Back to the elgort. Remember the flying thing? Well, she was practicing. Now, she WANTED to fly. Before, it still scared her. She was scared of heights. Now, she wanted to get away from the elgort. I would too. Good motivation. So, she flew, and flew home with the egg.
All-in-all it was a good novel. The exclamation points drove me insane, and the word usage seemed too immature for a YA audience, but it’s okay. Maybe I simply lack the young adult mindset, now, and don’t see it for what it is. Which is why I won’t judge that part strictly. I thought I wrote YA, but this novel makes me wonder if my audience is older…
I don’t have much else to say. Zahrah was a strong main character and narrator. I can’t ever decide if I like 1st or 3rd person better. In this case, 1st worked out well. Zahrah grew while in the jungle. You were able to experience the growth through her words. She accepted herself and her abilities, and the novel spoke to that–acceptance. It was sweet.
It’s hard to figure out what to vote on this novel… I still don’t know if I actually liked it because the pros and cons evened out… How about…
I hope God blesses your day, and I hope your weather is better there than it is here…