Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch CoverBook: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Published April 2011 by Viking Children’s|349 pages

Where I Got It: borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Magical Realism

What It’s About: 

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are 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. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

What I Thought:

I loved Akata Witch!  It is such a great book, and I am so glad I read it!

I really liked Sunny, and she’s pretty awesome!  She’s awesome at soccer, and she finds some really cool friends who introduce her to a world she never knew existed.  I liked seeing her learn more about her own powers, and how being an albino turns out to be a strength for her, instead of something that makes her stand out.  I also really liked seeing her learn more about the grandmother that no one talks about, and why her family really moved back to Nigeria.

What I loved most about Akata Witch was seeing Sunny studying magic, and how connected it was to Nigerian folklore and myths. I know nothing about Nigerian mythology, and I feel like I learned so much just by reading Akata Witch.  It was a little hard to get into at first, because I’m not at all familiar with African myths, but this book is worth reading because it’s very richly imagined, and now I want to read more about African myth in general, but especially those from Nigeria.

Another really cool thing about this book is that there are different levels that Leopard People have to go through as they learn more and more about magic.  While they don’t have to be at a certain age to go through the different levels, it is a really good idea since there are really bad consequences if they fail- and I like that they really do take it seriously, which (to me) is really different than other fantasy (and even paranormal) books where there aren’t really consequences and the characters can be sort of…whatever…about being introduced to a world they never knew existed.

I also loved that they have a teacher, and that they also have their own mentors.  They have so much to learn, and this book is definitely the start of Sunny’s magical journey, and I am so glad that there’s a sequel in the works because I want more set in this world.  I feel like I wouldn’t do the world justice if I tried to describe it, but it’s so different than anything I’ve read before.  Just trust me when I say that the world-building is amazing.

My Rating:

5 stars.  Akata Witch is amazing, and I loved that it wove in Nigerian folklore and mythology,  It’s one of my favorites of the year, and I can’t wait to read Okorafor’s other books.

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