Cover Image: Noor

Noor

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to like this one and at times I did, but overall it didn't do enough to keep my attention. I can see it being a good read for a lot of people and would encourage anyone looking at this to give it a try. This might be a case of right book wrong time for me.
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I am a biiiiig Okorafor fan, but this one missed the mark for me. It has a lot of interesting and important things to say about the violence that western corporations have done to African peoples and cultures. I just wasn’t as attached to the main characters–AO and DNA–as I have been to her past heroines like Binti, Onyesonwu, and Fatima/Sankofa­­.

The plot felt a bit predictable. There was an interesting twist about the origin of Noor’s earliest modifications, but I still struggled to stay engaged and interested in the narrative. I do wonder if my less-than-enthusiastic response was due in part to the fact that I listened to Noor as an audiobook. Perhaps I need the experience of words on a page to connect with Okorafor’s brilliance. That said, I enjoyed how the Nigerian accented narrator strengthened the African futurist setting. 

While the plot didn’t hold my attention, there were some pieces of Noor that I nonetheless appreciated for their insight and craft. I loved the description of the resistance community that lives off the grid in harsh environmental conditions. I loved how AO navigates her outsider status and the superstitions and stigmatization directed at her based on her “unnatural” appearance. I loved the diverse representation of cultures, like the dichotomy between city people like AO and herders like DNA.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Tantor Audio for giving me advance access to this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
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A novel that is both contemplative and engrossing. After a violent encounter, AO, a Nigerian lady with robotic body parts, is compelled to flee. She flees to the desert to get away from her old life, and it is there that she meets DNA, a desert herdsman who is also on the run from something. Their adventure is exciting, risky, emotional, and strong as they must discover a means to defend themselves against all types of attacks. AO and DNA are intriguing characters, with AO being particularly well-developed. I became increasingly engaged in her fate as she progressed through the narrative. I would have liked to see more of DNA, as well as more of the tale, filled out.
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I've been a fan of Nnedi Okorafor since I first read Binti, and I think Noor may have nearly lived up to the high marks I gave the Binti trilogy. 

While it took me a while to get into Okorafor's latest Africanfuturist offering, the last third of this book really settled into it's storyline as a battle against the overreaching, corrupt giant corporation. In fact, I think Noor would be a great intro for newbie science fiction readers because Okorafor's world is immensely relatable without hard-to-understand concepts that might turn those potential readers away. Not to mention that it's a POC author writing about a future where Africa is a dominant world power and the book is populated with POC characters. It ticks a lot of boxes that could easily gain a lot of new readers from across genres. 

As an aside, I think a great companion book to this is The Warehouse by Rob Hart. 

I have loved the narrators for the Binti trilogy (Robin Miles should be a must-listen for any audiobook enthusiast) and Remote Control, I was less impressed with Délé Ogundiran's performance in Noor. She did not have any character voices, which made it very hard to distinguish between characters or between dialog and the storyline. It made it somewhat of a difficult listen.
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You would think Noor is the main character's name but in fact, it is not. It is not a character at all. I can't even really remember what noor was, some sort of substance or something. Eesh. For it being the title, I should really remember what it is! What I remember is not finding out what it is until more than halfway through the book. And then it obviously didn't stick with me. What stuck with me was AO, a bionic human and DNA, a farmhand, and a government that is so totalitarian and far-reaching in a futuristic dystopian Africa. The science in this was incredibly complex and interesting and I really enjoyed the book. But I think I need to read it again, physically read it, in the future.
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This was a very interesting science fiction novel with prominent elements of African Futurism. For me, the best part of this novel was easily the worldbuilding. Just like with the Binti novellas, this story weaves cultural traditions into a futuristic setting.

I also really appreciated how the story incorporated body augmentation as a way to address disability. As an ownvoices story, Noor explores the challenges and stigma surrounding those with disabilities living in an able bodied world.

Admittedly, I did not completely connect with the plot and characters which held me back from really loving this one. Yet, I still really appreciated what the story was doing and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a diverse, fresh science fiction story.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the audiobook from LibroFM for review.
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Loved this story from start to finish. It was a quick and enjoyable read. I loved the world-building and the main character. Gorgeously told and the audio narrator was excellent. I loved the mix of futuristic tech and traditional lifestyles and the look into how one could effect the other.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read the ARC. Thank you to the author for writing such a great story.
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Unfortunately, I did not get very far with this audio book. I had a pretty tough time following the narrator and decided that I will have to pick this book up via a physical copy. Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite authors so I have no doubt that I will become absolutely immersed in this story with the physical copy.
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Rating 3.5
I liked the story and the characters overall. But I think the audiobook made it hard for me to understand and took me out of the story at times.
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I discovered Nnedi Okorafor when I read Binti last year [I didn't want to read it as I am not a sci-fi person and this showed me that I actually CAN be, I am just more particular about it than I am about other genres] and have wanted to do a deep dive into all her work; so I totally jumped at the chance to listen to her new book Noor and I was so happy I did. This book does not disappoint and as it went on and I spent more time with AO and DNA [I actually snorted out loud when they introduce him in the book and he tells AO his name and then snorted again when he introduces his cattle. Hilarious!], I realized I wanted this book to be much longer than it was. That is probably my only complaint; it is too short. I wanted so much more, and considering that it deals with class, race, artificial intelligence, monopolies, government, colonialism, that is saying a lot in my opinion. I also believe that you should read this with little before knowledge - getting to know AO and DNA should be a process that is unique to you and with no preconceived notions from a review; it will be a deeper, more meaningful reading experience for you. The Narrator is absolutely amazing and she really added to the reading experience. I would listen to her again and again [I will be looking for books narrated by her for sure]. Highly recommend. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Nnedi Okorafor, and Tantor Audio for providing this Audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Two lost people find themselves, each other and a secret that the biggest corporation in the world hoped would never be found. A secret that the powers-that-be will do anything to protect. As the saying goes, once a can of worms is opened they never go back into the can. Especially when the secret that’s been hidden is as earth-shattering and sand-spewing as this one.

And no, we’re not talking about Arrakis. We’re talking about Earth. A future Earth after an ecological/climatological disaster has created the equivalent of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in northern Nigeria. A sandstorm of such speed and force that the windpower it generates is powering great cities all over the world.

Even as it eats up and eats away the land that gave it birth.

The Red Eye is the place where people who don’t fit, where those who have nothing left to lose, and those who refuse to be monitored by giant corporations 24/7 take themselves when they have nowhere else to go. Or when they can no longer make themselves pretend that they belong in the world that has left them behind, in one way or another.

This big story, like that big ecological disaster, starts small. With AO and DNA, those two lost people who have each survived a trauma on the very same day. AO, born with multiple birth defects both internal and external, is now part cybernetic. In fact, AO is a lot cybernetic, with two cybernetic legs and one cybernetic arm to replace the nonfunctional limbs she was born with. And with cybernetics in her brain, not because there was anything wrong, but because she wanted the enhanced memory and permanent internet connectivity.

But the more AO looks like the “Autobionic Organism” she had named herself for, the less she is accepted by the people around her. Many object on religious grounds. Some do so out of fear – not that that’s much of a difference. Some find her rejection of traditional appearances and roles for women to be anathema. Many call her an “abomination”.

When the safe space she believes she has carved out for herself suddenly becomes anything but, AO refuses to submit. Instead, she uses her greater strength to not merely subdue her tormentors but to kill the men who expected her to submit to her own execution at their hands.

In the aftermath, AO runs. Away from the towns and towards the desert. Heading away. North. Towards the Red Eye. Driving as far and as fast as she can in an unthinking fugue state. At least until her car runs out of power and she continues on foot towards an unknown but probably brief future.

Where she runs into a herdsman named DNA, who is just as lost and traumatized as she is. Who has also just defended himself with deadly force against a mob that killed his friends and most of his herd of cattle in an act of misplaced revenge against terrorists posing as herdsmen.

Now DNA has been labeled a terrorist, just as AO has been labeled a crazed murderer. Everyone is literally out to get them.

But the context of both of their stories is missing. When they find that context, when they are able to dig down through the layers of propaganda and misinformation that surrounds the most traumatic events in both their lives, they find a deep, dark, deadly secret.

A secret that many people will kill to protect. A secret that brought them together – and is tearing their continent apart while entirely too many people, including both of their families, go complacently about their business.

Just the way the biggest corporation in the world had planned it.

Escape Rating A: One way of looking at Noor is that it is two stories with an interlude in the middle. Another way, and a better metaphor, is that it is 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.

I listened to Noor through the eye of that storm, and then read the rest because it and I were both so wound up that I couldn’t wait to see which direction all those winds ended up blowing. And the narrator, particularly for that first part, had a wonderful voice that was just perfect for storytelling. She helped me to not just hear, but see and feel that oncoming storm.

At first, in the story’s tight focus on AO, it all seems small and personal. AO is different, and she is all too aware of those differences. She, and the reader, are equally aware that one of the ways in which human beings suck is that anyone who is deemed by society to be different gets punished by that society in ways both large and small. AO’s constant awareness of her surroundings and her ongoing attempts to be less threatening and less “herself” in order to carve out a safe space in which to live will sound familiar to anyone who has bucked the way it’s supposed to be in order to be who they really are.

The violence against her is sadly expected and both she and the reader sadly expect it – until it becomes life-threatening and she strikes back.

When she meets DNA and his two steers, GPS and Carpe Diem, he is in the same emotional trauma coming from an entirely different direction. Where AO has embraced the future – perhaps too much – DNA has clung to his people’s past as a nomadic herdsman. That they find themselves in the same situation is ironic and tragic, but not in any way a coincidence.

And that’s where things get interesting. The more that AO and DNA search for answers, the bigger the questions get. The more they find friends and allies, the bigger the forces arrayed against them.

And the less the story is about those two lost people and the more it is about the forces that put them in that situation in the first place. 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.
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When an incident in a market leads to AI being on the run, she has to find somewhere to hide. She comes across the unlikely companion of DNA, a herder who also finds himself in some trouble. Soon they’re on a mission to find safety while also taking down the shady business that has entangled themselves in everyone’s lives. 

Nnedi Okorafor always writes entertaining and thought provoking science fiction. Noor is no exception and fits perfectly in with her other work. I thought the commentary around disability was really important and interesting, especially as we ourselves move into a future where technology can essentially help with disabilities yet our society still wants to leave disabled people behind.

I really enjoyed this book on audio and thought the narrator did a fantastic job with all these unique characters.

Thank you NetGalley and Tantor Audio for the audiobook ARC.
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Noor
by Nnedi Okorafor
Narrated by Délé Ogundiran
A Review

Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite authors, so I was thrilled to hear that she had yet another book coming out this year! 

I’m not too familiar with audiobooks, I’ve only listened to a handful over the years but this was an excellent choice!

With Okorafor’s words Délé Ogundiran sweeps you away to an africanfuturist Nigeria, scared by an insidious corporation, Ultimate Corp, it’s surveillance technology and exploitation and corruption.

It’s violent and sharp with social commentary!

A lovely story to lose yourself in for a few hours.

Thank you Netgalley and Tantor Audio for this opportunity to  listen to this in exchange for an honest review!
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After reading Binti with my 18yo son early this year I was very interested when I saw Nnedi Okorafor has a new novel for adults and I was lucky enough to get an audio copy through @netgalley when I requested it.

It is a science fiction/ African futurism novel of that explores the a potential future at the meeting point of bioengineering and destiny as well as humanity in a near-future Nigeria. Okorafor’s short novel drew me in right away and I had to keep listening. Dele Ogundiran’s narration adds another layer to the experience. The vision of the future explored in this book is rather cynical, life has gotten comfortable but the comfort comes at a price. A single corporation and its surveillance technology has entered all parts of life. Humans are still quite human which means that patterns of scapegoating and exploitation remain largely unchanged. But AO whose massively augmented body (after surviving birth defects and a car accident she became a sort of test subject) makes her an outcast learns a unique way to make herself heard. Which makes Noor a fabulous tale of a designated victim that  forces the world to listen.
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I have done a fair amount of hiking this past weekend trying to soak up all the autumn beauty before the never ending doom and gloom of the NE winter is upon us. Noor ended up being a perfect audiobook companion! Fast paced and imaginative it sucked me right in!

I actually started listening to a different audiobook, but alas, it was NOT going for me. Nothing was wrong with that particular audiobook - ya''ll know I like slower paced literary fiction, but due to some external circumstances I just could not get into it. Kept rewinding, losing my trail of thought etc. Noor to the rescue!

This was my first book by Nnnedi Oforafor, and honestly I don't know why. I love West African Fantasy. It gave me major Children of Blood and Bone vibes. Except it is not YA - so it actually has some pretty realistic descriptions of the relationships problems etc. No teenage angst LOL! (unless it's inline with the timeline:) 

The imagery in Noor is simply amazing - I kept picturing some sort of West African Mad Max :Fury Road, and also some of the famous images of the dust storm from Burning Man festival a few years back. Especially when AO, DNA and his steer were walking towards the Red Eye. 

While Noor is a work of fiction, if you listen to it carefully you will easily detect not so subtle criticism of the corruption in the Nigerian government, and big corporations' (I am looking at you Jeff Bezos) exploitation of Africa's people and natural resources.

There are also more philosophical questions of the woman's body and which decisions do and do not belong to her (spoiler: they ALL belong to her!), what it means to be human, and the effect of the media's interpretation of the events on people's minds. 

The portrayal of AO's body, the choices that she was forced to make, and the ones she made herself, her suffering, and what it feels like not to be able to move are especially good. Doubly so if you are familiar with the author's, Nnedi Okorafor's own story. Nationally known star athlete Okorafor had to undergo a spinal fusion surgery at the age of 19 which left her paralyzed waist down. That was actually how she started to write science fiction. With intense physical therapy she regained her ability to walk with the help of the cane. So when you read or listen to the part in which AO describes her pain, and all the angry feelings that she experienced due to her disability, stop and think for a moment. This is fiction, but those feelings are as real as could be. 

I did find some parts of the book a bit confusing. Especially the one about the white wizzard person...(what was that ? lol) In addition to that some of the description of the particular technology use (think being completely off the grid but still using phone/tablets/internet etc) could have been thought through a bit more. This being said, I was a Computer Science major in college so I tend to overthink these things something awful.

All in all if you are a fan of African Futurism or just in a mood for a good, fast Sci Fi read I highly recommend you to check out Noor! And the narrator, Dele Ogundiran is fantastic! 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐.75https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4310979072
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Well written characters and excellent storyline.  This is science fiction that covers several ideas, race. Class. Ai. Government  and other issues in a future Nigeria.  Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook.
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A fast paced, africanfuturist, science fiction story, Noor is a refreshing tale. Can two people outrun a world where technology is everywhere and everything is being recorded? Can a disabled woman with cybernetic parts and a man accused of a terrorist act he didn’t commit escape a world where every action they make is being streamed?

Read. This. Book.
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I was provided an audio arc via Netgalley, all opinions are my own.  

This was a bit hard to follow at times on audio.  The plot jumped around  quite a bit and felt a bit confusing.  I feel like I would have followed along better in print.   I've listened to several of Nnedi Okorafor's books previously, her writing is complex and full of meaning.  I've gone back and re-read several of her works and gained a much deeper and richer experience on the second read.  I feel like Noor will be the same way.  I just finished it and I feel like I need to read it again to gain the full appreciation for the work itself.  I also feel that on the second read I'll already have a handle on certain situations and characters.

Our main character AO, as she prefers to be called, was disabled at birth.  She was fitted with with prosthetics, but a car accident at 14 injured her arms and legs even further.  She was then outfitted with cybernetics much to her parents horror.  AO accepts that she is human and part machine and rejoices in her dual nature.   Society on the other hand does not really accept her with her robotic arms and legs.  This causes people to lash out at her for no reason other than she is different.  She is often asked "What kind of woman are you?"  When this question leads to a physical altercation in a market, AO flees the scene and runs to the desert where she meets DNA.  They are drawn to each others and are able to find comfort in their differences and the struggles they both face.  DNA is a cattle herder, and when his herd is attacked, he and AO end up on the run from the authorities.  As they run, AO begins to develop abilities that she finds are linked to her prosthetics and the corporation that is after her and DNA.  

This is a little more violent and mature than Okorafor's other works.  I think that plays along nicely with the social commentary regarding self acceptance, body shaming, and the anti-capitalist theme to the story.  The big corporation, Ultimate Corp, has rooted themselves in everyday life and has influence over everything.  It brings up a good social commentary discussion about big corporations and the power they wield and the impact they have on society and culture.  We've seen this before where a big corporation has overstepped and played with the lives of people in books and movies before and I think that plotline was really interesting.  It took a while to get to that part of the story and the truth behind what was really going on.

I thought the world building was really excellent.  The descriptions of the Red Eye, The Hour Glass, and other places and events in the book were really well done.  This was a really interesting African-futurism book that blended futuristic sci-fi with cultural aspects.  I actually really look forward to reading it again to experience the full effect of the author's message and story.
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A slim book with big ideas.  Touches on afrofuturism, colonialism, capitalism, mega-corporations, race, technology, disability, and more.  AO is a woman on the forefront of transhumanism and DNA is a traditionalist maligned by the world at large due to actions taken by a few.  They are brought together by trauma in this eco-techno-thriller.  The alternate futures that Okorafor is capable of dreaming up are again wonderfully rendered and feel as real as the present.
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I honestly was disappointed by Noor as a fan of Okorafor’s other titles. Noor skipped around a lot and failed to explain pieces of worldbuilding, events and relationships. It seemed to linger on all the wrong details. I also fundamentally disliked most of the main characters or just never learned enough to love them. AO and DNA’s relationship felt rushed and unrealistic. I’m all for an indictment of capitalism, market monopolies and global surveillance, but the balance felt off. As an audiobook I often felt the narrator was difficult to understand. I had to slow down the playback when normally I speed it up. Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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