So, I picked up a novel only to discover that it was a sequel. Of course that meant I had to by the first in the series and guess what? None of the bookstores around me had it in stock so I had to order it and wait for it to come. Nothing is worse than waiting on a book you really want to read! Anyway, the book finally came and that meant I could read it. Want to know what it was? Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. And guess what! I loved it! I loved both books and can’t wait for the third in the series to be released. You know that feeling when you find an author whose style is wonderful and entrancing and seems to be everything you could want in a book? That was how it was for me after discovering Okorafor and this series.
Sunny is a girl who just doesn’t fit in. Her family is from Nigeria but she was born in America and when she returned she became known as an akata, a rude slur for a Nigerian who isn’t really Nigerian, someone born out of the country. It doesn’t help that she had a vision of what appeared to be the end of the world. And did I forget to mention that she has albinism? In a country full of superstitions, she has been called a ghost, a witch, and many other things. Add to that the fact that Sunny loves soccer but can’t play in the sun, that her friends have abandoned her and that her dad seems to loathe her…well, her life is far from easy. But one day, after she is jumped by a group of older girls simply for being different, she makes a friend. Suddenly, she is introduced to a whole new world, one of magic and mischief and secrets. She is the one who is supposed to stop a great terror from coming but how? She is barely a teenager and can’t do juju like her friends yet. Why is Sunny’s life so difficult?
Sunny is a truly relatable character. She feels alone and lost. And everyone has been lonely at one point. I enjoy how the author plays everything forward even the most minute details, like the black umbrella Sunny always carries with her. Okorafor combines the folklore of Nigeria with her own truly creative mind to create a masterpiece.
It has been a year since the events of Akata Witch took place and Sunny now has a better understanding of who she is, even though she can’t tell her family. She is stronger but still not as gifted as the others in her coven. And the awful dreams make it hard for her to get any rest. Everyone else has a mentor but Sunny keeps messing up. When she is reprimanded by the Library Council, the ruling force in the world of the Leopards (those who can use juju) she thinks it is over. But then her brother is brutally attacked. They may not be close but Sunny decides to seek vengeance. Is she still a misfit? And why does she still have dreams of the end of the world? Her dreams are angry and full of smoke…she is forced in and out of the spirit world and then she is cast on a journey, a journey to see a giant spider diety. Can Sunny once again prevent armegeddon? Or is being half-herself a curse she cannot overcome?
The same imagination and imagery that I admired in Akata Witch are present in this novel as well. Sunny has friends but being a Leopard person means she cannot tell Lambs, meaning her family is left to wonder why she often comes home in the middle of the night and who her friends are. But the author lets us see how strong Sunny has become since the first novel, she is bright and willing to learn even though she still feels inadequate. I love the characterization of all the characters really. And even this novel featured a spider the size of a house, it is one I will definitely come back to in the future.
What is your favorite YA fantasy series? Let me know in the comments. I am really curious! Oh, and if you haven’t already, I would appreciate it if you would follow this blog. It helps me out a lot. Don’t forget to pick up a book and then share it with someone else!
Oh, and as a side note: I will be attending a Q&A session with Okorafor next month. Hopefully, I’ll have some tips for any of the writers out there. And if you want to see some of the conversations I have had with other authors, check out these two posts: A Converation with the Comma Queen and What I Learned from Marlon James.