Thank you to DAW Books for sending me a copy of Like Thunder in exchange for an honest review.
In a post-apocalyptic world shattered by the Great Change, a catastrophic nuclear event that reshaped the world and bestowed extraordinary abilities upon the Changed Ones, Dikéogu Obidimkpa, a storm-wielding rainmaker, seeks refuge in Timia. After saving the world years ago and fleeing the horrors of slavery on a cocoa plantation, he’s ready for a quiet life, especially when he meats Tumaki. The two spark a passionate romance against the backdrop of hostility against Changed Ones.
When a brutal attack on Timia leaves Dikéogu alone again, he loses his mind and awakens in the desert a year later. Desperate to figure out what happened, he reconnects with his first love and old ally Ejii. Together they embark on a new quest to uncover the truth and piece together the events of Dikéogu’s lost year.
Like Thunder is the sequel to Nnedi Okorafor’s second book, Shadow Speaker. Originally published in 2007, the story was revised and rereleased earlier this fall in anticipation of the sequel. Since it’s coming out nearly 15 years after the original, and takes place three years later, you will need to read Shadow Speaker to understand Like Thunder.
This sequel, however, is a very different book. Shadow Speaker was a coming-of-age story, centered around an optimistic young woman longing for peace. Like Thunder, on the other hand, looks at what happens after a three-year peace treaty is broken. Instead of hope and love, it’s a story of rage and vengeance. Dikéogu is an angry young man. While he has every right to be one, it’s sometimes difficult to experience the world from his point of view.
You would think that with such a close point of view, readers would experience everything Dikéogu does. But partway through the tale, Dikéogu loses an entire year to wandering in the desert. We get flashes of what happened, but never fully understand. From this point on, Like Thunder speeds up abruptly. A lot happens very quickly. Entire relationships bloom and fall apart, and characters travel hundreds of miles in a single page. This results in a somewhat strange, hurried ending where everything resolves too quickly. Both books in The Desert Magician’s Duology are short, but the sequel could have benefitted from more room to breathe.
If you’ve been waiting since 2007 for the conclusion to the adventure started in Shadow Speaker, be sure to check out Like Thunder. While it wraps up fast, there are plenty of impactful parallels to our current world that stand out among other similar modern stories.
Like Thunder comes out on November 28 and is available for preorder from your local independent bookstore or Bookshop.org.
TW: ableism, animal death, body horror, child abuse, classism, death, fatphobia, genocide, gore, homophobia, racism, sexism, slavery/child slavery, violence, war
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