In Remote Control by Nedi Okorafar, Sankofa, the one who sleeps at deaths door, the remote control, arrives at a remote town in Ghana. The people are terrified of this 14 year old girl who only looks 10 and can make herself glow deadly green. They feed her. They clothe her. They wish her gone and hope is not then she is here to kill.
Sankofa walks through town after town, followed by her fox Movenpick, who is unaffected by her ability to snuff out life within a heartbeat. The story is one of wandering. Sankofa has somewhat accepted a life of loneliness, of no technology, and of sleeping under the stars as she searches for the seed, the original source of her power and her curse. All along she is predominantly feared and loathed and misunderstood, but she finds good people along the way.
The way the American family is written juxtaposed against the African town and people at the start is really interesting and brilliantly done. It helps a simple Sydneysider like me who knows admittedly little about the history and culture and people of Africa, quickly acclimatise myself with the setting and the people.
in Remote Control, Okorafar shows you this amazingly detailed world so well through the eyes of a child. Whether Sankofa is six or 14, the POV feels real and well realised. And it grows. I feel many authors who try to write children really struggle to land the POV and and the protagonist’s understanding of the world properly and consistently. Little errors slip in revealing the adult behind the words. Okorafar does not suffer this problem. The point of view delivery of the story is utterly seamless.
The ending is like a warm, loving, grimdark slap in the face. It comes out of nowhere and it works brilliantly and everything leads to it and I loved it. It’s a brilliant twist where all the learning, the lack of control over her life and her power, all comes full circle in just a few brilliant paragraphs that had my jaw flopping on the floor. I can’t wait till somebody else I know reads this because I need to have a discussion about that ending.
Remote Control is another excellent novella release from Tor.com, and my introduction to this brilliant author. It’s full of heart, heartbreaking, revealing, and has one of the most enjoyable and brutal last page twists I’ve read in a long time.