Winner of the 2021 World Fantasy Award Winner of an 2021 ALA Alex Award Winner of the 2020 New England Book Award for Fiction Winner of the 2021 Ignyte Award Winner of the 2021 AABMC Literary Award A 2021 Finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Best Outstanding Work of Literary Fiction A 2021 Hugo Award Finalist A 2021 Nebula Award Finalist A 2021 Locus Award Finalist A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist A Most Anticipated in 2020 Pick for Book Riot | Buzzfeed | Paste | WBUR Named a Best of 2020 Pick for NPR | Wired | Book Riot | Publishers Weekly | NYPL | The Austen Chronicle | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Den of Geek "Riot Baby, Onyebuchi's first novel for adults, is as much the story of Ella and her brother, Kevin, as it is the story of black pain in America, of the extent and lineage of police brutality, racism and injustice in this country, written in prose as searing and precise as hot diamonds."—The New York Times "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 James Ella 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 to 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. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Reviews with the most likes.
There's a lot about this book to love, but it feels like it's not quite there yet.
The character of Kev feels fleshed out and realized, while on the other hand Ella does not. The opening of the book, which follows Ella, is incredible, before switching to Kev. The idea behind it is to highlight Ella's powers before jumping into Kev, who is in the wrong place at the wrong time while the wrong skin color.
While the book jumps around a lot to work within the framework of seeing trauma of other characters through the eyes of both Ella and Kevin, I've seen others state it made the book difficult to read, but I didn't think that was much of an issue. After it happens a few times it becomes clear what's happening.
The biggest, glaring issue here is a real lack of defined characters beyond Kev. Ella feels so strong early on and crumples under the weight of Kevin, his incarceration and his experiences.
There's a lot of parts of this book that are intentional and done incredibly well, which only highlights the parts that feel unfinished. This book has a lot to say about being black in America, the school-to-prison-pipeline, policing, criminal justice and much more. The ending was good but could have been much more effective if there was more to cling onto or more of a feeling for Kev or Ella. The characters spend so much time jumping around into the memories of others that we, the readers, can't ever get grounded enough or invested beyond parts of Kevin's journey.