Riot Baby
Riot Baby

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Annotation: In this combination of science fiction and social commentary, a girl with super powers confronts her abilities and the experience of being Black in America after her younger brother is incarcerated.
Catalog Number: #293866
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: TOR Books
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 176 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-250-21475-0 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9850-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-250-21475-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9850-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019041049
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Past, present and future clash in this ambitious novella inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing institutional violence toward young Black men. Kev was born during the riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial, and it's shortly after his birth that his older sister Ella begins to develop powers beyond her control. When they move to Harlem to escape South Central, her powers, which she calls the Thing, intensify, and she grapples with anger at the injustices happening around her. When Kev is incarcerated at Riker's Island, Ella is determined to create a different path for their futures. The story flows through history, from slavery and the civil rights movement to the modern day issues of discrimination and mass incarceration. There is a richness and depth to Onyebuchi's prose that delivers an intricate and textured world at once rife with violence and teeming with familial love. Dystopian stories normally depict an untenable near or future society, but Onyebuchi demonstrates that dystopia for African-Americans in the U.S. resides in the recent past and continues today.
Publishers Weekly
Onyebuchi (War Girls) paints a grim, dystopian portrait of contemporary America shot through with elements of the supernatural in this urgent, brutal work. Ella Jackson and her baby brother, Kev, are both preternaturally gifted. The -Riot Baby,- Kev, is born in 1992 Los Angeles, just hours after the courts acquitted the cops that beat Rodney King and the city erupted in violence. As a teenager in New York, Kev is brutally assaulted by police and arrested for no crime but being black; he spends the next eight years incarcerated at Rikers. During this time, Ella visits him both in person and psychically, constantly using her powers to offer him glimpses of freedom and life outside the prison walls and lead him on a path toward a revolutionary future as, in the outside world, incidents of police brutality rise and their mother-s health fails. Onyebuchi-s unexpectedly hopeful ending is just as powerful as his unflinching, heartbreaking depictions of racism and cruelty. This staggering story is political speculative fiction at its finest. (Jan.)

Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (11/1/19)
Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 9-12

"Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether."--Marlon JamesElla has a Thing. She sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse. A neighbor's son murdered in a drive-by shooting. Things that haven't happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability wreck cities in her hands.Rooted in the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is as much an intimate family story as a global dystopian narrative. It burns fearlessly toward revolution and has quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.Ella and Kev are both shockingly human and immeasurably powerful. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by racism. Their futures might alter the world.

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