Nnedi Okorafor has an uncanny ability for creating intriguing survival tales within grandiose Africanfuturist worlds ... The author immediately thrusts readers into the thick of the action ... Okorafor excels in fast-paced narratives ... She doesn’t get caught up in the nitty-gritty details, instead painting vivid images with broad strokes. Noor is around 200 pages long and moves briskly, yet still fleshes out the harrowing complexities of late-stage capitalism, colonialism, perceived disability, and climate change ... Okorafor crafts an unconventional hero’s tale that calls into question what we’re willing to lose for a better future.
This big story, like that big ecological disaster, starts small ... A story that winds up like a hurricane or a tornado, pauses in a calm storm’s eye in the middle, and then unwinds quickly in an explosive ending as the storm dissipates ... The story expands its tent to encompass colonialism, complacency and exploitation in ways that make the most singular acts have the most global of consequences – and the other way around – in an infinity loop at the heart of the storm.
In terms of plotting, Noor provides a fairly standard, serviceable speculative fiction novel ... Okorafor moves the story briskly after the murder and subsequent escape ... Noor excels by incorporating interesting philosophical considerations within a familiar narrative frame. As her story unfolds, Okorafor invites readers to contemplate an array of subjects, including questions of self-definition, societal impact, and constructions of community. Additionally, her expert worldbuilding helps to foreground these concepts, while also sparking a sense of wonder for her audience. Ultimately, Okorafor leans toward an optimistic outlook in the novel’s conclusion. Though Noor begins with misplaced hatred and death, it ends on an upswing, giving our heroes a dramatic victory and the rest that they deserve. Using the journey of AO and DNA, Okorafor paints the desert as a place of 'infinite potential and hope,' as long as we make the effort to treat both it and each other with care and respect.
With its short time frame, characteristically vivid settings, and sharply drawn characters, Noor may be Okorafor’s most tightly plotted novel to date, but it still manages to explore in unsettling ways some of her most passionate themes, including sense of identity, the role of the outsider, cultural intolerance, horrific corporate malfeasance, and government indifference or complicity. It’s such a fast-moving tale that the real punch doesn’t quite hit you until it’s over, but it’s quite a punch.
[A] probing, brilliant near-future odyssey ... Okorafor exposes the cracks in this technology-driven, highly surveilled society as each detour in AO and DNA’s route adds layers of intrigue on the way to a jaw-dropping finale. Frequent instances of suicidal ideation may be triggering to some readers, but Okorafor handles heavy subjects well. This is a must-read.
Okorafor has defined Africanfuturism, once and for all, in this tale of scapegoats and revolutionaries ... A searing techno-magical indictment of capitalism from one of the strongest voices in fiction.