"Nnedi Okorafor writes glorious futures and fabulous fantasies. Her characters take your heart and squeeze it; her worlds open your mind to new things." Neil Gaiman, author of The Graveyard Book and American Gods
Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world. Perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone!
Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.
Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them combat a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
World Fantasy Award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor blends magic and adventure to create a lush world. Her writing has been called “stunning” by The New York Times and her fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many more!
Raves for Nnedi Okorafor's writing:
"There’s more imagination on a page of Nnedi Okorafor’s work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics." —Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning author of A Wizard of Earthsea
“The most imaginative, gripping, enchanting fantasy novels I have ever read!” —Laurie Halse Anderson, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Speak
"I always loved science fiction, but I didn’t feel I was part of it—until I read first Octavia Butler, and now Nnedi Okorafor." —Whoopi Goldberg
"Highly original stuff, episode after amazing episode, full of color, life, and death. Nnedi Okorafor's work is wonderful!" —Diana Wynne Jones, award-winning author of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci
"Jam-packed with mythological wonders." —Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
"Okorafor's imagination is stunning." —The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Nnedi Okorafor (nnedi.com) is the first black woman to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. She has also received Hugo and Nebula Awards. Born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents, and raised in both countries, she holds a Ph.D in English and is a professor at SUNY Buffalo. She divides her time between Buffalo and the suburbs of Chicago, where she lives with her daughter Anyaugo (Anya). Nnedi's work has been published both in Africa and the United States, and ranges from early chapter books to adult short stories and longer fiction.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Copyright © 2017 Nnedi Okorafor
I’ve always been fascinated by candles. Looking into the flame calms me down. Here in Nigeria, PHC is always taking the lights, so I keep candles in my room just in case.
PHC stands for “Power Holding Company of Nigeria,” but people like to say it really stands for “Please Hold Candles in Nigeria.” Back in Chicago we had National Grid, and the electricity was always working. Not here, though. Not yet. Maybe in the future.
One night, after the power went out, I lit a candle as usual. Then, also as usual, I got down on the floor and just gazed at its flame.
My candle was white and thick, like the ones in church.
I lay on my belly and just stared and stared into it. So orange, like the abdomen of a firefly. It was nice and soothing until . . . it started flickering.
Then, I thought I saw something. Something serious and big and scary. I moved closer.
The candle just flickered like any other flame. I moved even closer, until the flame was an inch from my eyes. I could see something. I moved closer still. I was almost there. I was just starting to understand what I saw when the flame kissed something above my head. Then the smell hit me and the room was suddenly bright yellow orange! My hair was on fire!
I screamed and smacked my head as hard as I could. My burning hair singed my hand. Next thing I knew, my mother was there. She tore off her rapa and threw it over my head.
The electricity suddenly came back on. My brothers ran in, then my father. The room smelled awful. My hair was half gone and my hands were tender.
That night, my mother cut my hair. Seventy percent of my lovely long hair, gone. But it was what I saw in that candle that stayed with me most. I’d seen the end of the world in its flame. Raging fires, boiling oceans, toppled sky- scrapers, ruptured land, dead and dying people. It was horrible. And it was coming.
My name is Sunny Nwazue and I confuse people.
I have two older brothers. Like my parents, my brothers were both born here in Nigeria. Then my family moved to America, where I was born in the city of New York. When I was nine, we returned to Nigeria, near the town of Aba. My parents felt it would be a better place to raise my brothers and me, at least that’s what my mom says. We’re Igbo—that’s an ethnic group from Nigeria—so I’m American and Igbo, I guess. You see why I confuse people? I’m Nigerian by blood, American by birth, and Nigerian again because I live here. I have West African features, like my mother, but while the rest of my family is dark brown, I’ve got light yellow hair, skin the color of “sour milk” (or so stupid people like to tell me), and hazel eyes that look like God ran out of the right color. I’m albino.
Being albino made the sun my enemy; my skin burned so easily that I felt nearly flammable. That’s why, though I was really good at soccer, I couldn’t join the boys when they played after school. Although they wouldn’t have let me anyway, me being a girl. Very narrow-minded. I had to play at night, with my brothers, when they felt like it.
Of course, this was all before that afternoon with Chichi and Orlu, when everything changed.
I look back now and see that there were signs of what was to come.
When I was two, during a brief visit to Nigeria with my family, I contracted malaria. It was a bad case and I almost died from it when I got back to the States. I remember. My brothers used to tell me that I was a freak because I could remember so far back.
I was really hot, absolutely burning up with fever. My mother stood over my bed, crying. I don’t remember my father being there much. My brothers would come in once in a while and pat my forehead or kiss my cheeks.
I was like that for days. Then a light came to me, like a tiny yellow flame or sun. It was laughing and warm—but a nice kind of warm, like bathwater that has been sitting for a few minutes. Maybe this is why I like candles so much. It floated just above me for a long time. I think it was watching over me. Sometimes mosquitoes would fly into it and get vaporized.
It must have decided that I wasn’t going to die, because eventually it went away and I got better. So it’s not as if strange things haven’t happened to me before.
I knew I looked like a ghost. All pale-skinned. And I was good at being ghost-quiet. When I was younger, if my father was in the main room drinking his beer and reading his paper, I’d sneak in. I could move like a mosquito when I wanted. Not the American ones that buzz in your ear—the Nigerian ones that are silent like the dead.
I’d creep up on my father, stand right beside him, and wait. It was amazing how he wouldn’t see me. I’d just stand there grinning and waiting. Then he’d glance to the side and see me and nearly jump to the ceiling.
“Stupid, stupid girl!” he’d hiss, because I’d really scared him—and because he wanted to hurt me because he knew that I knew he was scared. Sometimes I hated my father. Sometimes I felt he hated me, too. I couldn’t help that I wasn’t the son he wanted or the pretty daughter he’d have accepted instead. But I couldn’t not see what I saw in that candle. And I couldn’t help what I eventually became.
The moment Sunny walked into the school yard, people started pointing. Girls started snickering, too, including the girls she usually hung with, her so-called friends. Idiots, Sunny thought. Nevertheless, could she really blame any of them? Her woolly blonde hair, whose length so many had envied, was gone. Now she had a puffy medium-length Afro. She cut her eyes at her friends and sucked her teeth loudly. She felt like punching them each in the mouth.
“What happened?” Chelu asked. She didn’t even have the courtesy to keep the stupid grin off her face.
“I needed a change,” Sunny said, and walked away. Behind her, she still heard them laughing.
“Now she’s really ugly,” she heard Chelu say.
“She should wear some bigger earrings or something,” Buchi added. Sunny’s ex-friends laughed even harder. If you only knew that your days were numbered, she thought. She shivered, pushing away the images of what she’d seen in the candle.
Her day grew even worse when her literature and writing teacher handed back the latest class assignment. The instructions were to write an essay about a relative. Sunny had written about her arrogant oldest brother, Chukwu, who believed he was God’s gift to women, though he wasn’t. Of course, it didn’t help that his name meant “Supreme Being.”
“Sunny’s essay received the highest mark,” Miss Tate announced, ignoring the class’s sneers and scoffs. “Not only was it nicely written, but it was engaging and humorous.”
Sunny bit the inside of her cheek and gave a feeble smile. She hadn’t meant the essay to be funny at all. She’d been serious. Her brother was truly an arrogant nyash. To make things worse, her classmates had all scored terribly. Out of ten points, most received threes and fours.
“It’s a waste of time trying to teach you all proper English,” Miss Tate shouted. She snatched a boy’s essay and read it aloud: “‘My sista always beg though she make good money. She likes to have but not give. She no go change.’” Miss Tate slammed the essay back onto the boy’s desk. “Do you come here just to stare into space? Eh? And you were all so timid in what you wrote. Who wants to hear ‘My mother is very nice’ or ‘My auntie is poor’? And in rotten English, at that! This is why I had you write about a relative. It was supposed to be easy!”
As she spoke, she stomped and clomped about the class- room, her face growing redder and redder. She stepped in front of Sunny’s desk. “Stand, please.”
Sunny looked around at her classmates. Everyone just stared back at her, with slack faces and angry eyes. Slowly, she stood up and straightened her navy-blue uniform skirt.
Miss Tate left her standing as she went to her desk in front of the class. She opened a drawer and brought out her yellow wooden switch. Sunny’s mouth dropped open. Ah-ah, I’m about to be flogged, she thought. What did I do? She wondered if it was because she was twelve, the youngest in the class.
“Come,” Miss Tate said. “But—”
“Now,” she said more firmly.
Sunny slowly walked to the front of the class, aware of her classmates’ eyes boring into her back. She let out a shallow breath as she stood before her teacher.
“Hold out your hand.” Miss Tate, already bloated with anger, had the switch ready. Sunny shut her eyes and braced herself for the stinging pain. But no sting came. Instead, she felt the switch placed in her hand. She quickly opened her eyes.
Miss Tate looked to the class. “Each of you will come up and Sunny will give you three strikes on the left hand.” She smiled wryly. “Maybe she can beat some of her sense into you.”
Sunny’s stomach sank as her classmates lined up before her. They all looked so angry. And not the red kind of anger that burns out quickly—but the black kind, the kind that is carried outside of class.
Orlu was the first in line. He was the closest to her age, just a year older. They’d never spoken much, but he seemed nice. He liked to build things. She’d seen him during lunch hour—his friends would be blabbing away and he’d be to the side making towers and what looked like little people out of Coca-Cola and Fanta caps and candy wrappers. She certainly didn’t want to bruise up his hands.
He stood there just looking at her, waiting. He didn’t seem angry, like everyone else, but he looked nervous. If he had spoken, Miss Tate would have boxed his head.
By this time, Sunny was crying. She felt a flare of hatred for Miss Tate, who up to this day had been her favorite teacher. The woman’s lost her mind, she thought miserably. Maybe I should smack her instead.
Sunny stood there carrying on the way she knew her mother hated her to do. It was pathetic and childish. She knew her pale face was flushed red. She sobbed hard and then threw the switch on the floor. This made Miss Tate even angrier. She pushed Sunny aside. “Sit,” Miss Tate shouted.
Sunny covered her face with her hands, but she cringed with each slap of the switch. And then the person would hiss or squeak or gasp or whatever suited his or her pain. She could hear the desks around her filling up as people were punished and then sat down. Someone behind her kicked her chair and hissed, “You stupid pale-faced akata witch! Your hours are numbered!”
Sunny shut her eyes tight and gulped down a sob. She hated the word “akata.” It meant “bush animal” and was used to refer to black Americans or foreign-born blacks. A very, very rude word. Plus, Sunny knew the girl’s voice.
After school, Sunny tried to escape the school yard. She made it just far enough for no teachers to see her get jumped. Jibaku, the girl who’d threatened her, led the mob. Right there on the far side of the school yard, three girls and four of the boys beat Sunny as they shouted taunts and insults. She wanted to fight back, but she knew better. There were too many of them.
It was a school-yard thrashing and not one of her ex- friends came to her rescue. They just stood and watched.
Even if they wanted to, they were no match for Jibaku, the richest, tallest, toughest, and most popular girl in school.
It was Orlu who finally put an end to it. He’d been yelling for everyone to stop since it started. “Why don’t we let her speak?” Orlu shouted.
Maybe it was because they needed to catch their breath or maybe they truly were curious, but they all paused. Sunny was dirty and bruised, but what could she say? Jibaku spoke up instead—Jibaku, who had slapped Sunny in the face hard enough to make her lip bleed. Sunny glared at her.
“Why did you let Miss Tate beat us?” The sun bore down on Sunny, making her sensitive skin itch. All she wanted to do was get in the shade. “Why didn’t you just do it?” Jibaku shouted. “You’re a scrawny thing, it wouldn’t have hurt much! You could have pretended to be weak as you hit us. Or did you like seeing that white woman beat us like that? Does it make you happy because you’re white, too?”
“I’m not white!” Sunny shouted back, finding her voice again.
“My eyes tell me different,” a plump boy named Periwinkle said. He was called this because he liked the soup with the periwinkle snails in it.
Sunny wiped blood from her lip and said, “Shut up, you snail-sucker! I’m albino!”
“‘Albino’ is a synonym for ‘ugly,’” he retorted.
“Oooh, big words now. Maybe you should have used some of those on your stupid essay! Ignorant idiot!” She added bass to her voice and enunciated the word “idiot” with her most Nigerian accent, making it sound like eeedee-ut. Some of the others laughed. Sunny could always make them laugh, even when she herself felt like crying. “You think I can go around hitting my own classmates?” she said, snatching up her black umbrella. She held it over herself and instantly felt better. “You wouldn’t have done it, either.” She humphed. “Or maybe you would have, Jibaku.”
She watched them grumble to each other. Some of them even turned and started walking home. “What is it you want from me? What would I apologize for?”
There was a long pause. Jibaku sucked her teeth loudly, looking Sunny up and down with disgust. “Stupid oyibo akata witch,” she spat. She motioned to the others. “Let’s go.”
Sunny and Orlu watched them leave. Their eyes met, and Sunny quickly looked away. When she turned back, Orlu was still watching her. She forced herself to keep her eyes on him, to really see him. He had slanted, almost catlike eyes and high cheekbones. He was kind of pretty, even if he didn’t talk much. She bent down to pick up her books.
“Are . . . are you all right?” he asked, as he helped. She frowned.
“I’m fine. No thanks to you.”
“Your face looks all red and, well, punched.”
“Who cares?” she said, putting the last book in her satchel.
“Your mother will,” he said.
“Then why didn’t you stop them?” she screamed. She slung the satchel over her shoulder and walked away. Orlu followed.
“I did. You didn’t see Periwinkle and Calculus do this?” He turned his head so she could see his swollen cheek.
“Oh,” she said, instantly ashamed. “I’m sorry.”
By the time they got to the intersection where their paths home diverged, she felt a little better. It seemed she and Orlu had a lot in common. He agreed Miss Tate’s actions were way out of line, he liked reading books for fun, and he, too, noticed the weaver birds that lived in the tree beside the school.
“I live just a little that way,” Orlu said.
“I know,” she said, looking up the paved road. Like hers, his house was white with a modest fence surrounding it. Her eye settled on the mud hut with the water-damaged walls next door.
“Do you know the lady who lives there?” she asked.
There was smoke coming from the back. Probably from a cooking fire, she thought. She had only once seen the woman who lived in it, some years ago. She’d had smooth brown skin tinted slightly red from the palm oil she rubbed into it. Most of the people in the area believed she was some sort of witch and left her alone.
“That’s Nimm’s house. She lives there with her daughter,” Orlu said.
“Daughter?” she asked. She’d assumed the woman lived alone.
“Hey!” someone yelled from behind them. “Orlu! Who’s the onyocha?”
“Good Lord,” Orlu groaned. “Will the drama never end?”
Sunny whirled around. “Don’t call me that,” she said before she got a good look at the girl. “I hate when people call me that. Do I look like a European? You don’t even know me!”
“Seen you around,” the girl said. She was fine-boned, dark brown, and elfin, but her voice was loud and strong and arrogant. So was her smile. She wore an old-looking red, yellow, and blue dress and no shoes. She swaggered over to Sunny and they stood there, sizing each other up. “Who are you?” Sunny finally asked.
“Who are you?” the girl retorted. “Did someone run you over?”
Orlu sighed loudly, rolling his eyes. “Sunny, this is Chichi, my neighbor. Chichi, this is Sunny, my classmate.”
“How come I’ve never seen you at school?” Sunny asked, still irritated. She dusted off her hopelessly dirty clothes. “You look around our age, even if you are kind of . . . small.”
“I’ve never needed your stupid school.” Before Chichicould say any more, she and Orlu exchanged a look. “And I’ll never tell you my age. I could be older or younger than you. You’ll never know, even if you are half ghost and half human.” She smirked, looking Sunny up and down, obviously itching for a fight. “Even when you speak Igbo you don’t quite sound Igbo.”
“That’s my accent. I’m American,” Sunny said through gritted teeth. “I spent most of my life there. I can’t help the way I speak.”
Chichi put her hand up in mock defense. “Oh, did I hit a sore spot? I am so sorry.” She laughed.
Sunny could have slapped her. At this point, another fight wouldn’t have made much difference.
“Well,” Orlu quickly said, stepping between them, “this isn’t going very well.”
“You live there?” Sunny asked, leaning around Orlu and motioning toward the hut.
“Yeah,” Chichi asked. “My mother and I don’t need much.”
“Why?” she asked.
Orlu stepped back, looking perplexed.
“I’ll never tell you,” Chichi said with a sly grin. “There’s more to the world than big houses.” She chuckled, turning away. “Have a nice evening, Orlu. See you around, Sunny.”
“Yeah, if I don’t step on you first,” Sunny said.
“Yeah, and if I can even see you coming, ghost girl,” Chichi shot back over her shoulder.
Orlu only shook his head.
Excerpted from "Akata Witch"
Copyright © 2017 Nnedi Okorafor.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"There’s more vivid imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor’s work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics." -Ursula K. Le Guin
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My mom bought this for me two days ago. I was totally unfamiliar with this setting but once I got going, I couldn't stop reading! I just finished it! I don't think I ever read a book that fast, except maybe Harry Potter. I'm going to read it again, this time slower. I love the weird magic and the characters were really cool.
First, I like to mention that this is the first book I read about African supernatural and ancient magic and I enjoyed it til the end. It's a very likable read and I love the four main characters, especially Sasha and Chichi. This book wouldn't let me put it down until I was finished reading it and I give it a 7 or 8. It was a simple and fun read about magic and supernatural beings and a different life from normal people. It has some action, comedy, and a little romance between the characters. I believe Akata Witch will have a sequel because there was a hint at the ending, but it might be a stand alone. If Akata Witch does get a sequel I will love to get my hands on it and read it what happens next.
“Prejudice begets prejudice, you see. Knowledge does not always evolve into wisdom.” Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy. Number of Pages: 349. Perspective: First. Location: Nigeria. Twelve-year-old Sunny is an albino living in Nigeria. She leans that she is part of the Leopard People, where her albinism helps make her magical. I need to start off by saying that I love seeing diverse main characters and settings in children’s literature. And I love that traits that are typically perceived as strange are actually strengths in this book. That’s really the only thing I liked about this book, which is why I gave it two stars instead of one. This is said to be the “Nigerian Harry Potter”, but halfway through, I got really bored and ready to give up. The pacing was not right. It was too much backstory for me. Which always gives me the impression that we are building up for a series (See why I hate book series here). I just want a complete story in one book! Don’t drag me along until the last few chapters of the book. Honestly, if this wasn’t for my book club, I would have dropped it as a “did not finish”. Instead, I pushed through and basically skipped the last sixty pages. I have to add a disclaimer that maybe I just don’t like fantasy books that much. There are only a handful of fantasy books I actually enjoyed. I know people that really loved this book, so maybe it’s just me. Read full review here: https://judgingmorethanjustthecover.blogspot.com/2019/01/akata-witch-nnedi-okorafor.html
Akátá: A Nigerian term used by some African immigrants to the United States to describe African Americans and their descendants. Over time it has come to have derogatory connotations due to perceived tensions between some African immigrants and African Americans. [Source: Wikipedia]Since she was born in New York to Nigerian parents, twelve-year-old Sunny is well aware that she's an akata. Now that her family has moved back to Nigeria, that and her albinism are facts her classmates won't let her forget. Finding out that she's also a witch, however, comes as a total surprise. With the help of new friends, Sunny discovers that she's a "free agent," a person who possesses latent magical abilities. These magical folks refer to themselves as Leopards. The realization that Leopards not only exist, but that she also happens to be one, opens up a new and juju-filled world for Sunny. Her magical studies are three times as hard as her regular classes, that's to be expected. But Sunny is still shocked when she and her friends are assigned the most difficult assignment of all ¿ to stop a serial killer.Parts of ¿Akata Witch¿ read like a concise, African-style, Harry Potter series. Rather than a Knight Bus there's a Funky Train to transport Leopards to and fro. And non-magic folks aren't called Muggles, they're Lambs. But while these elements make the story feel familiar, it's clearly not. ¿Akata Witch¿ provides an imaginative sprinkling of magical realism in a locale that is largely ignored by the fantasy world. And Okorafor's leading ladies steal the show with their quick thinking and fortitude, something I love to see in young adult literature.
This was the first Okorafor book I ever read and I fell in love with both her characters and her writing almost immediately. I love the story of Akata Witch, but I especially love the seamless way she blends fantasy and reality together. I also like that the novel is set in Africa, but instead of exploiting the culture, she embraces it and plays upon the stereotypes and subverts them. While Sunny is the main character and wonderfully likable, she's also not the only character to capture our imagination. Okorafor does a wonderful job of building both her world and character in such a way that once you're deep into the book, you never want to read. I plan to read as much of her writing as I possibly can.
Akata Witch is a story about a young 12 year old albino girl named Sunny Nwazue. Sunny has never felt like she¿s fit in. As an albino she stands out with her bleached African features, light yellow hair, light skin, and hazel eyes. She is also considered both American and Igbo (an ethnic group from Nigeria), and thus not really either. She was born in Nigeria but grew up in New York and then, when she was nine, moved back to Nigeria. All this changes when she meets and befriends Orlu and Chichi. When they reveal their secret she learns about a hidden world of full of magic and danger that she does belong to.Akata Witch is rich in Nigerian culture which provides a unique and interesting setting for this story of friendship, adventure and magic. It has a lot to offer to teens and tweens who can easily relate to characters who hide their true selves from the outside world but get to share it and their struggles of growing up with their close friends. It is a Junior Library Guild Selection.
I bought this book because I wanted to see what my granddaughter was so excited about. I have never read this author, therefore I didn't know what to expect. Can I say pleasantly surprised! I can't wait to talked to my granddaughter on how she took the book. I will definitely be reading more of her work as well as reading this one again.
Just incredible. Wildly inventive and original and compelling, with great characters and rich, vivid world building. I read this one slowly so I could savor each detail. I've never read anything else like this.
Just incredible. Wildly inventive and original and compelling, with great characters and rich, vivid world building. I read this one slowly so I could savor each detail. I've never read anything else like this.
The book was very impressive. The teenage friends that become a coven, defeating the odds and evil
It cannot be said that Sunny’s tale of self discovery has little to offer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystic stories and intricate fantasy. On top of it all, there is plenty fun to be had as well as dreams to be explored. All of us will be left hoping there is a little Leopard in us after picking up the Akata Witch.
I'll be honest, I'd never heard of Akata Witch until it arrived on my doorstep. And when I skimmed some of the reviews, I saw that it was compared time and again to Harry Potter which immediately sparked my interest. They weren't wrong. There are definitely similarities but this book is so much more than that. The story begins with Sunny, a twelve-year-old born from the United States who has returned to her parents' native Nigeria. Between her upbringing for nine of her twelve years, as well as being albino, she doesn't always fit in. First off, the setting is perfect. Okorafor weaves an intricate magical world within a cultural that I'm not familiar with but became completely engrossed in. I was really intrigued by the Leopard people, those with magical abilities in this world. Each detail in this book has a purpose, a meaning, whether you realize it right away or not. I also thought the entries from Sunny's book scattered throughout between chapters provided an interesting examination of the Leopard people from the eyes of that book's author, someone who's a member of Leopard society. I'll be honest. I forgot that the characters were younger after I started reading. Though Sunny is twelve, this book read more like a young adult novel than middle grade which is where I would have expected it to fall based on the character's age. Where her age showed was in how little she really knew about the world she found herself in (and with good reason). It's hard not to see the parallels to Harry Potter here. Sunny (Harry) learns she's a Leopard girl (wizard) who will be able to use juju (cast magic) and use a juju knife (wand). She and her friends (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) have to defeat the big bad and save the magical world and the Lambs (Muggles) that might be affected. There were other scenes in the story that made me immediately think of scenes from Harry Potter but the overall story is a familiar one. And that wasn't a bad thing. I wasn't really sure how I felt about a book being described as this similar but found that Okorafor put such a unique spin on the same general idea that easily stands on its own as a fabulous book. I wanted to see Sunny succeed. While she's new to the Leopard world, her friends have been a part of it for many years. Chichi's spunk and sass kept scenes interesting while I thought of Orlu as the glue holding them all together. Then there's Sasha who was a bit more of a wild card but they all came together. It was great to see how the author also spun characteristics that might seem like flaws into something unique and good. Sunny is albino and it's caused her to be ridiculed by her peers, but it's also what makes her special, what gives her abilities that very few Leopard people have naturally. Now there were a few things I wasn't a big fan of. The ending was a bit lackluster for me, rushed compared to the rest of the book and a tad predictable based on the story arc. For the rest of the book, the chapters were drawn out and moved a bit slow. Though I liked the characters, I didn't find them to be overly interesting compared to the world itself. And as I mentioned, the plot was easy enough to guess in terms of the big points. It's a familiar story so that's to be expected. Overall, I did really enjoy Akata Witch and will be diving into Akata Warrior soon!
This is a really difficult book for me to review. There were pieces I loved as well as pieces I didn’t. On a whole, the story just never came together into a coherent storyline. The setting of this book is very cool. It takes place in (what I imagine is) modern Nigera. I know absolutely nothing about Nigera, so it was a little bit of a culture shock for me to read about this area, but it was also cool and enlightening. As Sunny discovers her Leopard (their word for magical people) abilities, we get to know more about that sub-world, which was also cool, if a bit…odd. The writing of this book feels middle grade, but there are so many situations the characters find themselves in that are beyond the maturity level of middle grade readers. Being touted as “the Nigerian Harry Potter” I feel like they missed the mark a touch. The first two Harry Potter novels, which I would consider to be lower YA/Middle Grade, did not have themes as dark as the later books. Akata Witch dove right in with the very dark themes. So much of this book is spent building the world and magic system that the plot seems mostly forgotten. At one point we learn that Sunny and her Leopard friends are supposed to take out a Leopard man who has been kidnapping and murdering children. Instead of, you know, training the kids to take on this task… they’re given little tasks that don’t really do a whole lot to train them. The book starts out with Sunny having a vision. And then that vision is pretty much forgotten throughout the whole book. It’s kind of a big deal, especially if it were to come true, but everyone just brushes it off. All of the adults/mentors/leaders in this book are pretty useless. They’re mostly mean and more often than not, NOT helpful to these 12/13 year old children. There’s also talk of Sunny’s mysterious (dead) grandmother. There’s very little talk of her throughout the story until the end. I feel like there was a missed opportunity, not making more use of her. I’d actually rather read her story than Sunny’s! Do I recommend this book? I don’t know… this book was just all over the place for me. I liked the idea, but I think the plot needed to be tightened. Unfortunately it’s a miss for me. If you want to explore a magical world / culture that is pretty unique, this might be worth reading for you.
I've heard this book referred to as the "Nigerian Harry Potter." And after reading it, I can certainly understand why. This book is the most magical and immersive middle grade novel I've had the pleasure of reading, since the Harry Potter series. I was absolutely captivated and mesmerized by Nnedi Okorafor's world building, character development, and story telling. Nnedi's prose, while lovely, also contains this delightful humor that will prove wildly entertaining for readers of all ages. The four main characters Sunny, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha are an absolute delight. They have such powerful voices and maintain a genuinely youthful playfulness while being forced into the position of becoming their world's last hope against the evil that seeks to destroy it. Nnedi incorporated some incredible themes throughout this novel. The adult Leopard People (magical people in this society) trust in these children to save their world. They demonstrate faith in the capabilities and intelligence of the youth in their society, something I truly would love to see more of in our own world. I also loved the fact that Nnedi took things that would be considered physical oddities in our world and turned them into something that would serve to give these children special abilities in the Leopard world. For example, Sunny is albino, which causes her to made fun of and ridiculed by her peers and others in the human world, but gives her a very special and powerful gift in the Leopard world. This is definitely a book that deserves to be read widely and celebrated as the literary gem that it truly is. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, AKATA WARRIOR, which will be released in October of this year!
A fascinating glimpse into a fantasy and mythos that isn't Euro or Sino centric. I'm 22 years old and I adored it. Accessible, well-written, clever, contains a strong and diverse cast of characters whom I was able to root for. Read if you like: African folklore, mythology, religion and spirituality, fantasy, well-rounded and interesting characters, magic, good writing, strong plotlines, strong female characters, diverse representation, intrigue and adventure, etc. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
I have to read this book for 7th grade. At first the book was super slow and boring, but it gets better toeards the middle. Once I reached the good part I couldn't put it down. Hope there is a sequel!
It's a good book needs some more description.