This is technically a prequel to a book I haven’t yet read, Who Fears Death, but it stands alone just fine. I actually think this might be the first book of Okorafor’s I’ve enjoyed this much — it shares themes with Lagoon and with what I know of Who Fears Death, shares the same anger at and examination of colonialism, racial issues, etc, but somehow Phoenix came alive for me more than any of the characters of Lagoon or Binti.
There were some aspects of this that I didn’t quite get — it just seemed so crammed full of stuff: the alien seed, the mutants, the modifications that could be done to normal humans, the political situation, the frame story… But I agree with another review I read earlier that said that this is about myth-making: that’s really the thing to remember with this one, the core of the story. Phoenix mythologises herself, and makes new mythology around her. Everything she does feels like part of a myth, so you don’t really have to question the archetypal Big Brother Government, the mad scientists, etc.
It’s a pretty easy/fast read, though not always emotionally easy; the scene with Phoenix’s mother is really effective, for example.
I think it’s not going to stick with me that much, but it was enjoyable.