Book Review: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Published October 2017 by Viking Books For Young Readers|477 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Akata Witch #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. 

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.

I really liked this one!  I feel like I’ve read a few of her books recently, and I have a couple more on my shelf that I got from the library, so I’m definitely in a mood for Okorafor’s books.

I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I’ve read the first book, so I didn’t remember anything from Akata Witch.  Which was actually fine because I didn’t need to remember too much about it.  It doesn’t rely a lot on the first book, though it is a good idea to read that one first.

It was so nice to revisit this world, and I loved seeing what Sunny and her friends were up to.  I loved how she wanted to protect her brother, and even though it caused a lot of trouble for Sunny, I feel like her heart was in the right place.  I’m glad we got more of her family, and if there are more books in the series, I hope we get more with her family and how she has to balance that with being a Leopard Person.

I love how the details come together, and I love the balance between the magical world and the real world.  They’re balanced really well, and I love how they exist together.  They’re very different, of course, and I can’t imagine having to hide part of that from family, but overall, I think Sunny manages to fit in pretty well.

I loved revisiting this world, and it’s just as interesting as the world we saw in Akata Witch.  This book really adds to Sunny’s world, but I wish some things were talked about a little more.  Still, there’s more to Sunny’s world in this book, and it was nice to grow with Suny as she comes into her abilities a little more.

4 stars.  It took me a little time to get into it, and I think a lot of it is not having re-read the first book.  Still, I really liked it, and it was nice going back to Sunny’s world.

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Book Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Published September 2015 by Tor.com|90 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Binti #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

I really liked Binti!  Okorafor also has really interesting sci-fi, and Binti was no exception.

So, Binti gets accepted into a university, which means she’s at odds with her family, since they believe in staying at home, and not going away for school.  Something about that seemed very familiar and it was easy to relate to Binti as she had to deal with what people thought she was like because of where she was from.  I really liked the message of accepting people’s differences, and that differences are something that we should celebrate and be more accepting of.

I really wish we saw more of Binti’s Harmonizer abilities.  It came up, of course, but not in a lot of detail.  That isn’t surprising, considering it’s a novella.  I would have liked more of how great at math she is.

As much as I liked Binti, I thought it could have been longer and expanded on.  It looks like there are two more books after this one, so there’s more to read (and I will be reading them) in this series.  Maybe those are a little bit longer, but it was too short for me to really get into it.  Looking back, it felt like a rough outline that needed to be filled in with more detail and world-building.

You get enough to have a general idea of what the world is like, but I think I just wanted more.  Okorafor creates these very vivid worlds, and while Binti is no exception, it wasn’t to the level I usually expect with her books.  The quality is there, but it’s the length that hurt it a little.

4 stars.  I really liked the world and the characters, but I wish it was a little bit longer.

Audio Book Review: The Book Of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor, Narrated by Robin Miles

Book: The Book Of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor, Narrated by Robin Miles

Published September 2015 by Audible Studios|Length: 8 hours, 50 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Who Fears Death #0.1

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Dystopia

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell….

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman” – only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading ebooks, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7. Then one evening Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life.

Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape. But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future. 

I really liked The Book Of Phoenix!  Nnedi Okorafor always writes really interesting books, and this one was no exception.

This one is a prequel to Who Fears Death, and I kind of wish I had re-read that one first, just to get back into this world.  Also, I couldn’t begin to tell you how the two books are connected, but maybe I’ll re-read Who Fears Death just to see.

I did like Phoenix, and I thought it was horrible what people were doing to the biologically altered.  I do remember wondering how we got to the future we saw in Who Fears Death, and I am thinking that maybe everything we see in this book is what leads to that future.  I could be wrong, and I really am wishing I had re-read Who Fears Death.  But that is what I get for randomly deciding to read a book without re-reading any of the other books in that series.

That being said, I thought the book stood on its own really well, and I don’t think the order in which you read the books matters.  Also, you could probably read just this one, and be fine.  It is its own story, and I liked seeing Phoenix try to take down the towers and fight back against her controllers.

The Book Of Phoenix worked really well as an audio book.  It’s an oral history, told by Phoenix herself, and I felt like Phoenix was telling me her own story, which really worked.  Also, it’s narrated by Robin Miles, who is a fantastic narrator.  I’ve really liked the books I’ve listened to that have been narrated by her, and this one was no exception.  I’m really glad I went with the audio, and I wholeheartedly recommend the audio book.

4 stars.  I wish I had more to say about this book, but I don’t.  I really liked it, and I love how Okorafor blends fantasy and sci-fi.

Book Review: Zahrah The Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Zahrah The Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Published September 2005 by HMH Books For Young Readers|308 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

In the northern Ooni Kingdom, fear of the unknown runs deep, and children born dada are rumored to have special powers. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal girl — she grows her own flora computer, has mirrors sewn onto her clothes, and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. But unlike other kids in the village of Kirki, Zahrah was born with the telling dadalocks. Only her best friend, Dari, isn’t afraid of her, even when something unusual begins happening — something that definitely makes Zahrah different. The two friends investigate, edging closer and closer to danger. When Dari’s life is threatened. Zahrah must face her worst fears alone, including the very thing that makes her different.

In this exciting debut novel by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, things aren’t always what they seem — monkeys tell fortunes, plants offer wisdom, and a teenage girl is the only one who stands a chance at saving her best friend’s life.

I’ve read a couple of Okorafor’s books, and thought I’d read this one.  It’s not my favorite book of hers, but I still liked it a lot.  Zahrah The Windseeker is this really cool middle grade that’s about learning how to accept yourself and overcoming your fears and overcoming fear of the unknown.  I really liked that about the book.

I also really liked how there’s this interesting blend of past and present- there’s something about Zahrah that feels really old, and yet there’s something very modern, especially where technology is concerned.  I think that’s something she does really well.  If you liked Akata Witch, this is a really good book to pick up.  Even if you haven’t, it’s still a really good read.

I loved the setting, especially the market and the jungle.  I thought the jungle was very vivid, and I could picture everything very clearly.  I really felt like I was with Zahrah in the jungle.  I really liked the market as well, but it didn’t have the life and vividness that the jungle had.

I also really liked that she came across another windseeker, and I wish we saw more of their relationship.  Even though Zahrah needs to take her own journey, and the other windseeker isn’t supposed to have a huge role in the book, I still wonder what sort of relationship they have once the book ends.  I thought her friendship with Dari was great, and how she kept going, even though she was scared, because she wanted to help him.  She really was willing to help him, no matter what.

I am curious about the ending.  I liked it, and it wrapped things up really well, but at the same time, I thought it left things open for a potential sequel.  As far as I can tell, it’s a stand-alone, which is fine, because it works really well on its own.  But there is part of me that wants to know how things turn out with Zahrah.

3 stars.  I liked it, and there are some things that I really liked (and even loved) about the book, but I didn’t love it the way I’ve loved her other books.