Monday, March 28, 2016

Ooga Booga


About the Author:
(Taken from Amazon)

Gerry Walker is a writer living in Harlem. His debut novel, Pretty People Are Highly Flammable, was called “Fantastically twisted, deliciously get down dirty, gritty and real… seductively addictive and simply amazing,” by USA Today Bestselling Fiction Author Delilah Marvelle.

OOGA BOOGA by Gerry Walker is one of the first fictional renderings of the #BlackLivesMatter movement told via a speculative, futuristic lens: It has been a few years since the deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland. A mysterious condition invades the U.S., erasing the Black individual’s ability to speak any known languages. A bizarre new dialect has surfaced instead. Unable to comprehend their surroundings, they take to the streets and do what they can to survive. This sparks nationwide panic, triggering a government mandate to capture Black people and transport them to isolation camps. Marketing executive Vanessa Landing risks everything to fight for their freedom, not realizing the web of deception awaiting her, nor the liberating love that will transform her from an insecure corporate pawn into the fierce warrior she was meant to be.


Ooga Booga is a fascinating speculative fiction, exploring what might happen if African-Americans suddenly developed a change in the way they think and speak.  The author does a wonderful job of examining how American society would react and how it would affect individuals on a personal level.

Along with the fascinating concept, I also really enjoyed the writing style.  It was smooth and incredibly gorgeous at certain moments.  I had no issue reading this novel in a single setting and finishing it in one day.

Some of my favorite lines:

Anti-rhythmic and multi-tones, it was what a modem might sound like if it sang to you.  Like programmer code being performed live beneath your skin.

Without warning, a loud, brilliant sensation of freedom exploded through her cerebral cortex, forcing her fear to compete for space.

She craved more and wanted to open herself up and pour him in like medicine.

While the story is being advertised as a novel illustrating the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I have trouble describing it as that, myself.  For me, it's about a person's struggle to regain control of her life and herself.  The main character, Nessa, has changed her life significantly and moved away from her family, pretending to be something she is not merely because her love ones insisted it was the best thing for her.  She falls into the lie and continues to act and behave certain ways just to gain the approval of those around her she admire.  Once the novel really picks up, Nessa finds her façade stripped away, and she has to finally come to terms with who she truly is.  But, is she now in control of her life, or has she fallen into her old ways, allowing other people to dictate who she should be and how she should behave?  I think at it's heart, this is a story that could speak to so many people on a deep, individual level.

I'm sure the main question is why four stars when I loved this so much!  There were a few aspects that took a star off for me.  The biggest for me is that there were so many scenes skipped and glossed over, and the lack of those scenes affected how much the story resonated with me.

For instance, the main plot of the story is that African-Americans were treated poorly by being locked up in camps.  While on the surface that sounds horrific, I couldn't ignore the fact that the change in how people thought and spoke also came hand in hand with confused cognitive abilities.  Being unable to think clearly or understand what something means can be dangerous not only for the affected individual, but also for passersby.  In otherwords, one wouldn't claim that a person suffering from Alzheimer's is being mistreated simply because they're not allowed to walk around in public alone... and there were thousands of African-Americans suffering from this ailment in the end.

I read through a majority of the books wondering what the big deal was, and what the main character had in mind to keep both the affected individuals and the general public safe once the camps closed.  Throughout the book, characters would state very plainly that the camps were horrible, but the audience is never shown that.

After the main character is released from the camps (and the audience is shown her in a confused mind frame with workers in the camp tending to her), the main character gives a speech about the camps, stating:  "I've personally heard the heartbreaking stories of hundreds of hardworking individuals who've lost their jobs... Stories of people like you who were chained up and banished to live in cold, dim, dirty camps miles away from your home."

While the audience is shown the main character losing her job (and I could get behind and cheer their attempts to create laws and prevent this from happening), I couldn't cheer for their abolishment of the camps because I wasn't shown the heartbreaking stories.  At some points, I wished the author had gone in scene for some of the information provided to the audience.  I wanted to, at the very least, hear the heartbreaking stories and the horrific things some people had to endure in the camps.

All in all, while a very good read, the story could have been twice as long and much more engaging.

And, although I had one major issue with one aspect of the story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and being taken through all the twists and turns of the main character's journey.  This is a novel for my must-read list.

If this sounds like an interesting story to you, please purchase your copy at Amazon.

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