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Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befr Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?


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Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befr Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

30 review for Akata Witch

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rick Riordan

    I spent the weekend with a great book: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. As you can guess, I’m a sucker for all kinds of mythology, and this middle grade/YA fantasy is steeped in the myth and magic of Nigeria. Our main character is Sunny, a twelve-year-old girl born in the U.S. but recently moved to her parents’ homeland of Nigeria. Sunny stands out in more ways than one – she’s albino, she’s a prodigy at soccer, and she’s teased at school for being an akata (literally a ‘wild animal’) because she i I spent the weekend with a great book: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. As you can guess, I’m a sucker for all kinds of mythology, and this middle grade/YA fantasy is steeped in the myth and magic of Nigeria. Our main character is Sunny, a twelve-year-old girl born in the U.S. but recently moved to her parents’ homeland of Nigeria. Sunny stands out in more ways than one – she’s albino, she’s a prodigy at soccer, and she’s teased at school for being an akata (literally a ‘wild animal’) because she is from America. Sunny also has to deal with her family’s complicated past. Her grandmother, whom Sunny never met, was a mysterious figure that Sunny’s mother refuses to talk about, and Sunny’s parents aren’t exactly clear about why they decided to move Sunny back to Nigeria. Then one night during a blackout, Sunny stares into a candle’s flame and sees a horrifying vision of the end of the world. This is the first sign that Sunny is not like other kids. Her powers have begun to awaken. Soon, Sunny makes three new friends who introduce her to the secret world of magic. There is Orlu, her classmate, a kind-hearted boy who has a natural talent for undoing juju spells. There is Chichi, a girl with a smart mouth and a quick wit, who doesn’t go to school and lives in a tiny hut with her strange mother and hundreds of books. Then there is Sasha, an African American boy from Chicago, who was sent to Nigeria for corrective education after terrorizing his classmates back home with an evil spirit – a masquerade. Sunny learns that she is one of the Leopard People, a subset of humans who have strong links to the spirit world. The Leopards (as opposed to the Lambs, regular people) have their own society, with centers of juju learning throughout the world. In Nigeria, their town is called Leopard Knocks, and can only be reached by crossing an invisible bridge over a magical river. As Sunny begins to master her own powers, she realizes the world is a much more incredible and dangerous place than she imagined. Even the simplest lesson – like visiting a teacher’s house in a forest – could be fatal – and Sunny quickly realizes that she and her three friends are being trained to work as a team for a vital mission. A serial killer is on the loose: Black Hat Otokoto, who is stealing and killing children, often removing their eyes in the process. If that’s not creepy enough, Black Hat is secretly a powerful magician working the most evil kind of juju with human sacrifices. If Sunny and her friends can’t stop him, Sunny’s apocalyptic vision will come true. Can four young Leopard People master enough magic and learn to work together to stop a killer? The answer is by no means certain. The book’s premise may sound familiar – a secret society of magic practitioners in the modern world, a group of friends who must master their powers to stop a terrible evil sorcerer. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Leopard People vs. Lambs is just a takeoff on Wizards vs. Muggles, or Demigods vs. Mortals, or any number of other fantasies in which the heroes find they are special and magical. Sure, Akata Witch has some structural similarities (I particularly loved the fact that ADHD and dyslexia may be signs that you are a Leopard Person – great minds think alike, etc.) but Okorafor’s book is firmly rooted in West African myth, which opens up a world as wondrous as Hogwarts but as different as pepper soup is from tea and crumpets. There are too many wonders in this book to describe them all: an artist wasp that builds sculptures out of crumbs and will sting you unless you praise its skill; a juju-powered bus called the funky train, driven by a fast-cussing man named Jesus’s General; a sorceress who lives in a hut at the top of a palm tree; juju knives that can cut pockets out of the air, summon music or carve force fields; and horrible spirits called masquerades, who appear from termite mounds and wield powers so terrible they will kill you or drive you insane if not summoned properly. In the world of Leopard People, money is called chittim, and can only be gained by learning. Whenever you cast a new spell or find out something important about your powers, magic money literally falls from the sky – copper the most valuable, gold the least valuable. Any video game fan will appreciate the idea of coins appearing when you defeat an enemy, and personally I felt like chittim fell at my feet whenever I learned about a new monster, spirit or god from Nigerian myth – which happened a lot. I used to teach a unit on African folklore in my classroom, but it’s such a huge subject I never really got to do it justice. We would read the animal fables of the Ashanti from Ghana and learn the adinkra symbols. We would read Yoruba myths from Nigeria and learn about the ancient gold-rich kingdoms. We would eventually work our way down to the DR Congo and I would tell the heroic epic of Mwindo from the Nyanga people (Nkuba the lightning hedgehog – best character ever). Still, there are so many cultures in West Africa alone, one could spend a whole year learning stories of gods and heroes and only scratch the surface. If you’re tiring of knights, dragons and Merlin-type wizards and are interested in exploring a fresh and different world of magic, try Akata Witch. It’s jam-packed with mythological wonders. Because it is so rich and so different from standard Euro-fantasy fare, some readers may take a little time getting oriented and keeping all the details straight, but it’s well worth the journey. Best of all, the book hints at future adventures for Sunny and her friends. I can’t wait to read more!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities. Sunny was born in New York, but recently moved back to her homeland (Aba, Nigeria) and that transition has not been easy. She's bullied for her "American-ness", her weirdness and above all, for her skin, she's an albino African American. All Sunny wants is to do what other, normal, twelve-year-olds can do - play soccer in the sun, laugh with a bun We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities. Sunny was born in New York, but recently moved back to her homeland (Aba, Nigeria) and that transition has not been easy. She's bullied for her "American-ness", her weirdness and above all, for her skin, she's an albino African American. All Sunny wants is to do what other, normal, twelve-year-olds can do - play soccer in the sun, laugh with a bunch of friends and be accepted for who she is. Instead, she is bullied. Bullied by the kids at school, by her brothers at home and by her father (who wishes she was a boy). But, then one day, Orlu and Chichi come into her life, followed by Sasha. Sunny learns that she is of the ancient race called Leopard People, who draw their strength from their greatest weaknesses (i.e. Sunny's albino complexion makes her weak to the sun. This actually becomes a huge asset). Meanwhile, a man called Black Hat Otokoto is carving his way across Nigeria - taking one child victim after another for his black magic. Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form an Oha Coven with only one desire - to stop Otokoto. Will they manage it in time? Or die trying? There will be danger; some of you may not live...It's a risk you take. This world is bigger than you... There were many things that I loved about this novel - it felt so uniquely crafted and the world building was fun and exciting. I thought the magic system was clever and enjoyed how knowledge was seen as the topmost goal of everyone in the Leopard People society. Okorafor merged the ancient magic of Africa with the modern world in an intricate and fun way. However, this book didn't 100% work for me. Was it just me or did any one else notice the similarities to Harry Potter? There's a secret school that Sunny is forbidden from mentioning to her family, there's various levels of magical examinations required before you can use magic in the real world (etc). There was even a scene where Sunny goes to a secret market (hidden from "lamb" (muggle) eyes) where she meets a mysterious knife seller... and the knife chooses the Akata Witch... Was it just me, or did the kids seem really... weird? Sunny & Co felt like they were around 16-17 and yet they were actually supposed to be around 12 to 13. And they had the emotional range of a teaspoon. For the most part, they were doing things they seemed more in line for high schoolers (i.e. one of the boys used magic to tighten the fabric and push up 12-year-old Chichi's breasts). And, they never felt emotions. For example, their little gang watched a man get murdered right before their eyes.... only immediately go play the most drawn out and pointless impromptu soccer game ever. Someone pointed out that it could be cultural differences...but two of the main ones came from America and everyone (equally) didn't care about witnessing murder. They just skipped off to play soccer. Was it just me, or did the bickering make you want to pull out your hair and scream too? The one thing that did feel very age-appropriate for the kids was bickering. I love a little banter but when 50% of interactions were just the main characters infighting, it became wearisome. I just stopped caring because of the effort it took to follow along with the fighting. Was it just me, or is anyone else PISSED about the albino thing? It really bugged me when Sunny's sun sensitivity was magically cured (Something to do with her leopard people blood...) It bothered me because: 1) According to the book's lore, Leopard People are supposed to embrace their flaws and gain power from them. Leopard People are supposed to love their physical shortcomings, so why in the world would the author erase them? Why not show your character adjusting and overcoming? 2) Can YA (and books in general) GET OVER the trope where every medical flaw has to be healed for happiness? Thousands of albinos are out there in the world, and finally (FINALLY) there's a book starring a main character with albinism. ...but then the author magically cures the negative physical traits while leaving her main character with the "cool" traits (unusual skin/ eye tones). I want a book where the author doesn't wave her magic pen and ONLY THEN the sick or abnormal main character experiences life. Just my two cents. YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    What is really compelling about Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch wasn't the plot (which is solid), but the sense that you were reading about a totally different magical world which exists alongside a reality which is equally unfamiliar (in Nigeria). Okorafor draws from Nigerian folk beliefs and rituals, and lets us into this world little by little as our protagonist discovers her own unique abilities. Some reviewers have compared the novel to J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book and (in terms of t What is really compelling about Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch wasn't the plot (which is solid), but the sense that you were reading about a totally different magical world which exists alongside a reality which is equally unfamiliar (in Nigeria). Okorafor draws from Nigerian folk beliefs and rituals, and lets us into this world little by little as our protagonist discovers her own unique abilities. Some reviewers have compared the novel to J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book and (in terms of the plot) that doesn't seem so far off the mark. However, even if the story of a young mage discovering her powers isn't new, Okorafor gives it fresh power! This is the second Okorafor book I've read this month, and I plan to read more!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    TW: brief mentions of child abuse; some fatphobic language I listened to this on audio and it was so immersive. This was a unique magic system based in Nigerian folklore. Our MC was raised in America but has lived in Nigeria for years. This story explores themes of ethnicity and race, belonging, ancestry, and sexism. This book did struggle with some pacing issues and the characters not always feeling as young as they were supposed to be. But overall, I enjoyed this story and world, and I plan to TW: brief mentions of child abuse; some fatphobic language I listened to this on audio and it was so immersive. This was a unique magic system based in Nigerian folklore. Our MC was raised in America but has lived in Nigeria for years. This story explores themes of ethnicity and race, belonging, ancestry, and sexism. This book did struggle with some pacing issues and the characters not always feeling as young as they were supposed to be. But overall, I enjoyed this story and world, and I plan to continue with the series.

  5. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **4.5-stars rounded up** Nnedi Okorafor's, Akata Witch, is an absolute treat for any YA, or Middle Grade Reader, who loves magical training, or competitions. I was blown away by how invested I became in this story. The lore, the action and the relationships were all beautifully done. Sunny, a 12-year old albino girl, who recently moved from New York City to Aba, Nigeria, has a difficult time fitting in. When people look at her, they seem to immediately pass judgement because she looks different. At **4.5-stars rounded up** Nnedi Okorafor's, Akata Witch, is an absolute treat for any YA, or Middle Grade Reader, who loves magical training, or competitions. I was blown away by how invested I became in this story. The lore, the action and the relationships were all beautifully done. Sunny, a 12-year old albino girl, who recently moved from New York City to Aba, Nigeria, has a difficult time fitting in. When people look at her, they seem to immediately pass judgement because she looks different. At school, she's constantly bullied and excluded. The one person who accepts her, full stop, is a boy named Orlu. They begin spending time together and he introduces her to one of his friends, a vibrant young girl named, Chichi. Chichi doesn't go to their school, although she is the same age, as she is home-schooled by her Mother. When Sunny first goes to Chichi's house, she's astounded by the number of books. The house itself seems to be built of books and on such a wide array of interesting topics. It is through Orlu and Chichi, and their afternoons together, that Sunny ultimately learns of the Leopard People, a group of magical individuals living amongst them. Sunny is told, that she is one of these people. It is then that Sunny's true education begins, as an entire hidden world opens up to her. Orlu and Chichi have been learning about their gifts as Leopard People for a while, so Sunny starts out a little behind. In spite of this, she learns quickly and begins to relish her new found powers. Together the three kids are joined by Sasha, a boy from America, and they form the youngest Oha Coven ever. They are tasked with hunting down a serial killer, Black Hat Otokoto, kidnapping, maiming and killing children in their area. The fearsome-foursome go head-to-head against some truly dark forces to try to protect life as we know it. I loved this friend group so much. Their relationships blossomed over the course of the story and I grew to love each and every one of them. I loved how Okorafor weaved the magical realm seamlessly into our own. It was entirely believable. It made me believe, anyway. If you are someone who loves a strong friendship group, coming together in the face of evil, with magic, heart and humor, you absolutely need to pick this up. It's compelling from the very start. Super engaging, full of action and interesting characters. I also loved the the way the folklore and legends were introduced into the story. I thought it was such a clever format for learning about the world. I am excited to pick up the next book, Akata Warrior. Is this really only going to be a duology? I feel like there is so much room for this story to grow. I never want to say goodbye to Sunny, Orlu, Chichi or Sasha. Damn. I'm getting emotional already and I've only read the first book!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    What can I say? It felt very much like book one of Harry Potter in terms of plot and situation, only milder and set in Nigeria. It shouldn't have felt milder. Objectively, there were child mutilations and a serial murderer on the loose. And there wasn't some gigantic castle with enchantments up to protect the students. So theoretically, if I were one of these four kids, I'd be creaming my pants. Brushing that aside, the setting is deeply fascinating to me, with magics very tied to the place and cu What can I say? It felt very much like book one of Harry Potter in terms of plot and situation, only milder and set in Nigeria. It shouldn't have felt milder. Objectively, there were child mutilations and a serial murderer on the loose. And there wasn't some gigantic castle with enchantments up to protect the students. So theoretically, if I were one of these four kids, I'd be creaming my pants. Brushing that aside, the setting is deeply fascinating to me, with magics very tied to the place and culture, with masks and masquerades and local spirits and demons and angels. The magic system was solid and cool, as were all the magical beasties. I didn't even mind the mirroring of HP elements popping up like clockwork... like everywhere... I just let myself enjoy the magic, the discovery, and the coming of age. Sometimes that's all you need to do. :) I think I might like to continue with the series. It's a comfortable, familiar ride, but just off the beaten path.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    Twelve-year-old Sunny's family moved from the United States to their native Nigeria when she was nine years old. Even though her family is originally from Nigeria, Sunny is always an outsider amongst her schoolmates. She's American by birth and albino, both traits that make her a target for bullies. When she has a terrifying vision of the end of the world, she discovers yet another quality that sets her apart from the rest of the community. She's a Leopard, a person with magical abilities. With Twelve-year-old Sunny's family moved from the United States to their native Nigeria when she was nine years old. Even though her family is originally from Nigeria, Sunny is always an outsider amongst her schoolmates. She's American by birth and albino, both traits that make her a target for bullies. When she has a terrifying vision of the end of the world, she discovers yet another quality that sets her apart from the rest of the community. She's a Leopard, a person with magical abilities. With the help of three new friends and a challenge to protect her community from a ritual killer, she will find out who she really is and the full extent of her capabilities. I adored Sunny! She's continually underestimated and "her path to anything seemed to always be difficult." Her father favors her brothers over her, possibly because she "wasn't the son he wanted or the pretty daughter he'd have accepted instead." She loves to play soccer, but her gender and sensitive skin prevent her from playing with the boys after school. I loved Sunny's intelligence and fortitude in the face of adversity. She knows that the limitations and stereotypes that others saddle her with say more about them than her.  Prejudice begets prejudice, you see. Knowledge does not always evolve into wisdom. When Sunny discovers her abilities, she also finds out there's an entire part of her community that was previously invisible to her. Leopard Knocks is a rich, magical world rooted in Nigerian tradition and mythology. There are some of the typical elements that you'd expect of this genre, but there are also so many new things to discover. Spirit faces, vengeful insect specters, and the approval-seeking (and charming!) wasp artists were especially interesting to me. While power and material possessions are the most valued things in the non-magical world, knowledge is the most important resource of the Leopard People. They receive a financial reward for learning new skills. However, opportunities to accumulate power and wealth are always tempting and even Leopards can be corrupted. Both the magical and non-magical world can be dangerous and the children are not sheltered from the harsh realities of life. Sunny is aware of ritual sacrifices and people being sold into slavery. Her community is currently being terrorized by ritual killer Black Hat Otokoto, who is mutilating and murdering children. Sunny and her friends encounter life-threatening situations during their magical training. In the Nigerian Leopard community, punishments are "swift and painful," unlike the America Leopard community's "verbal and lawful" system. Of course, America has its own problems, which are discussed. Home will never be the same once you know what you are. Your whole life will change. Nigeria is already full of groups, circles, cultures. We have many ways. You are Yoruba, Hausa, Ibibio, Fulani, Ogoni, Tiv, Nupe, Kanuri, Ijaw, Annang, and so on. You add being a Leopard Person to that and your groups split into a thousand more groups. The world becomes that much more complicated.  Division and discord are a major part of Sunny's world. There are tensions between people of different tribes, nationalities, and abilities. The multitude of languages spoken leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings and alienation. The title reflects some of these conflicts. One classmate calls Sunny a "stupid pale-faced akata witch," mocking her for being an American and albino. "Akata" is a derogatory term that refers to black Americans and people with albinism are often assumed to have "magical evil powers." Even in the Leopard community, Sunny is a minority. Both of her parents are Lambs (non-magical people), making her a rare Free Agent. The best resource available to her kind is written from a place of prejudice. But for the most part, the things that make Sunny different are assets in this new part of her life. Sunny's new friends all have different backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses, but it's their differences that make them strong as a team.  In fact, some of the traits that are considered weaknesses to Lambs are a source of enhanced strength to the Leopards. Mature and humble Orlu keeps the team grounded. Chichi is quick in both speed and wit. Sasha is angry and impulsive. Sunny is jealous that everyone else seems to know who they are, but she will figure out her place as she gains more experience. Learn how to learn. Read between the lines. Know what to take and what to discard. The only part I didn't like was (view spoiler)[the rushed and anti-climatic ending. I was beginning to think the big confrontation I was expecting wouldn't happen. Perhaps the major arc in this story would just be Sunny finding out who she is, coming into her own, and learning to navigate her two worlds. The big fight did come eventually, but it was over in a few pages and the result came confusingly swift. I didn’t get the same satisfying thrill witnessing the kids fight the big bad as I did seeing Sunny kick butt on the soccer field. (hide spoiler)] Of course, this is just the first book in the series and there's much more to come. Like many preteens, Sunny is trying to figure out her place in the world. She just has a few extra challenges on top of that, like trying to save the world from ultimate destruction! Will these magical novices be able to put their divergent abilities together and defeat a more powerful foe? I loved Sunny and the world of Leopard Knocks. I'm anxious to see what Sunny, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha will be up to in the long awaited sequel Akata Warrior, available October 3, 2017. I'm glad it'll be a short wait! Other Links: Review of this book written by a man with albinism  - There are book recommendations in the comment section. "Don't Call Me Albino" -- A Primer on Albinism Etiquette The story of Nigeria's 'untouchables'  (BBC) - Osu people referenced by Sunny in Chapter 12. ___________ I received this book for free from Penguin First to Read. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It's available now!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim Miner Litton

    So torn on this one about giving it a 3 or 4 star rating. Pros: Love that the story is set in Africa, with African and African American main characters, as well as an albino. Also, it goes the Percy Jackson route of explaining that what we call "learning disabilities" like ADD and dyslexia, are just bi-products of their uniqueness as magicians. The world building is fantastic. We often see magic from a European point of view and it was really cool to see this fresh take. Cons: When I was told that So torn on this one about giving it a 3 or 4 star rating. Pros: Love that the story is set in Africa, with African and African American main characters, as well as an albino. Also, it goes the Percy Jackson route of explaining that what we call "learning disabilities" like ADD and dyslexia, are just bi-products of their uniqueness as magicians. The world building is fantastic. We often see magic from a European point of view and it was really cool to see this fresh take. Cons: When I was told that this story staring an Albino, Nigerian girl was a Harry Potter read alike, I didn't believe it until I started reading. Outsider to the magical community looking in. Juju knives instead of wands. Leopard Knocks instead of Diagion Alley. Lambs instead of Muggles. Etc. Etc. There's nothing wrong with being a Harry Potter read alike, except it suffers in the same place I think HP does. The climax is a show down with a final bad guy. We know its coming but that's basically all the build up for it. Mainly the story is about enjoying the novelty of Sunny's new magical life and the final conflict is jarringly thrown in at the end. We don't see how they were prepared for the final showdown and why it was them who had to do it. For me, the ending felt like it ran up and smacked me in the face. Still, I think I would recommend it overall. It's nice to see a unique female protagonist in a unique setting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    D

    If you're looking for an interesting example of non-Eurocentric worldbuilding, then pick up this book. If you're looking for a good plot and sound characterisation, you can probably find better. In terms of setting, this book is fantastic: it's interesting, different and a nice change from the super-Euro default setting of most urban fantasy novels. The world-building, although we're not shown much outside of the character's immediate area, is fantastic and gives a good impression of what the glo If you're looking for an interesting example of non-Eurocentric worldbuilding, then pick up this book. If you're looking for a good plot and sound characterisation, you can probably find better. In terms of setting, this book is fantastic: it's interesting, different and a nice change from the super-Euro default setting of most urban fantasy novels. The world-building, although we're not shown much outside of the character's immediate area, is fantastic and gives a good impression of what the global situation is in this universe, not just the local one. The novel also focuses on female characters, and their families play an important (if background) role to the story. The characters themselves are fairly diverse, with Igbo as well as other tribes represented, and physical traits like albinism appearing alongside mental ones like dyslexia. So that was nice! As someone with dyslexia, I found the depiction of it to be a little baffling, but the fact it is even shown was nice. However, while the world-building is great, I found the plot weak and the characters unbelievable. The adult characters are all alternatively useless and terrible, and the children are placed with an absurd amount of responsibility for no discernible reason - although the older characters consistently say they'll explain later, you'll never get an explanation worth the suspension of belief. Even a pokey explanation would have been better, because the alternative is that all the adult characters come across as mildly psychopathic, and/or possibly trying to kill and/or tramuatise these kids in the weirdest, most off-handed way. The child protagonists aren't much better. Their personalities are not very well defined - apart from his casual sexism, it's hard for me to think of ways that Sunny, the protagonist, is different from her young schoolmate Orlu. Part of this is because the characters don't really grow throughout the novel. They undergo a number of different tramuatising events, but they never actually experience consequences - for example, although a man is killed directly in front of them and the children are all horrified, they get over it in a handful of pages and it is never mentioned again. This is a consistent theme throughout the book, and is exemplified in the final scenes. Things may happen to the characters, but if they're not affected by them, then what's the point? Finally, as the most minor issue, I found the book's handling of American blacks to be slightly strange. The primary protagonist is from America, but identifies primarily as Nigerian throughout the book, which is not the issue. The problem is that the only American who identifies as such is Sasha, who is a juvenile delinquent who refers to himself "as a descendent of slaves and such", cracks jokes about soul food, "cornbread, fried chicken and collared greens" and whom other characters constantly talk about his weird, girly name. Any of those traits by themselves would be fine, but when he is also the only character that continuously brings up racism and those are all his defining characteristics, it gets weird. ETA, 10/17/2018: I wrote this review when I was a great deal more mealy-mouthed than I am today, so for clarification: I find this book's handling of American blacks to be explicitly racist, in case the descriptions above don't make that entirely clear, and more a caricature of what people think the culture is / the people within it are than an actual portrayal of a genuine character.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

    BRILLIANT fantasy set in Nigeria and a fantasy world unlike any I've ever read before! Great world-building, character development and imagery! Hoping that this is a series with many, many installments because I want to journey back! BRILLIANT fantasy set in Nigeria and a fantasy world unlike any I've ever read before! Great world-building, character development and imagery! Hoping that this is a series with many, many installments because I want to journey back!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    "The ones with attitude have the best light.” So What’s It About? (from Goodreads) "Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in "The ones with attitude have the best light.” So What’s It About? (from Goodreads) "Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?" What I Thought/The F Word Last year I read Okorafor’s Who Fears Death and thought it was extremely strong in a number of regards but also found it weighed down by immature characters who made impulsive and infuriating decisions. And my feelings about Akata Witch this year are…almost exactly the same! This time around I genuinely loved the magic and the world-building. Okorafor’s creativity and sense of humor really get to shine in this book and I adored everything from the tungwas ( “floating bags of teeth, bone, meat and hair. They explode when they’re ready”) to a magical pepper soup recipe with dire warnings about the soup turning to poison and a kind of magical artist wasp with a flair for the dramatic if it doesn’t get enough praise for its creations: “Its sting paralyzes you for ten minutes so you can do nothing but watch it build its ‘final masterpiece’ and then keep watching as it dramatically dies.” The secret magical society is rich and interesting and I loved the very sweet underlying message that the things we think of as our weaknesses can actually be our strengths: “We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and develop our most individual abilities.” Sunny’s ostracization because she is albino is also well-explored, though I do think it takes away from the central message that once she becomes a free agent she loses the light sensitivity that comes along with her condition. There are also a few times that the story touches on black identity and belonging in the U.S. vs Nigeria in a really compelling way. I’m so pleased to have read a story all about black kids exploring the things that make them special, growing in power and saving the world, especially within the context of a delightfully unique non-Western world full of magic. Unfortunately the main group of kids spend 90% of their time squabbling and bickering with each other, which I found incredibly annoying. They also make some terrible decisions with absolutely no justification whatsoever, like when Chichi inexplicably summons a masquerade at a party and it runs rampant, causing havoc and destruction. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review it’s the same problem I had with Who Fears Death: sympathetic characters are made unsympathetic because their incessant immaturity and impulsivity. There are also a few moments of bizarre emotional detachment. At one point Sunny almost gets beaten by her father and then she goes about her day utterly unfazed. At another point in time the kids see a man get violently murdered right before their eyes and then a few paragraphs later they’re all like “Hey, guys, who wants to play a soccer game on the field where this man just died!” I mean, what? It was the strangest moment in the book by far and I would really love to know what Okorafor was thinking when she wrote it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanti

    Sorry, I wish I liked this but I don't. I normally love Okorafor's writing, but this particular one is terribly written and poorly edited. I really enjoyed the setting (Nigeria) and use of African culture and magic, but it really suffers from being too formulaic and derivative - it takes a huge number of its plot points from Harry Potter. Don't get me wrong, I loved Harry Potter, but I don't think this one did its own thing nearly enough. For instance, the Leopard (wizard) kids took a magic train Sorry, I wish I liked this but I don't. I normally love Okorafor's writing, but this particular one is terribly written and poorly edited. I really enjoyed the setting (Nigeria) and use of African culture and magic, but it really suffers from being too formulaic and derivative - it takes a huge number of its plot points from Harry Potter. Don't get me wrong, I loved Harry Potter, but I don't think this one did its own thing nearly enough. For instance, the Leopard (wizard) kids took a magic train (Knight Bus) to a market (Diagon Alley) that Lambs (muggles) couldn't see. They then went to get the Free Agent (muggle born) main character her own juju knife (wand) which she gets from a quirky and strange man (Olivander) who muses about how curious her knife is - but never explains the significance of this particular blade - and further, this is the only possible knife she can get cause the wand chooses the wizard. And that's only a couple of chapters... There's dozens more parallels in the book. Frankly, really meaningful, emotional things seem to have no consequences... The kids witness someone dying and are upset - but within a page, they've seemingly forgotten all about it and have started enthusiastically playing an elaborate soccer match. More time is spent on this ultimately pointless soccer match than is spent in the climax of the book! In the climax, the adults of the book push the kids towards a confrontation, without any real effort to give them training to help them win, nor any real consideration for the kids' survival or safety. The main character is 12 for crying out loud. They had no business to do that. Finally, there's some pretty horrible editing errors. Sunny is from New York - but in the prologue she says she's from Chicago, and in another section she implies she's gone to school in Nigeria since she was 5. Her aunt simultaneously lives in Atlanta and works in NYC. Sunny caught malaria when she was 2 - yet she couldn't have caught it when she was 2 because she was living in the United States at the time. So, unless she took an unmentioned vacation, malaria would have been impossible. So, in general, this is just a huge, huge disappointment for me. It'd probably read better for the target audience (lower end of the YA scale) but just doesn't hold up to my adult skepticism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    After seeing the author read from what will be Akata Witch #2, I realized I had overlooked a book I should seek out. Akata Witch soon pulled itself ahead of the other books in my tbr pile. If you like books about magic, particularly teens finding out they have special abilities, learning to use them, and building a community with others like them, this is the book for you. Added to those well-loved tropes is a new landscape with new traditions and rules. Setting it in Nigeria, with Igbo people b After seeing the author read from what will be Akata Witch #2, I realized I had overlooked a book I should seek out. Akata Witch soon pulled itself ahead of the other books in my tbr pile. If you like books about magic, particularly teens finding out they have special abilities, learning to use them, and building a community with others like them, this is the book for you. Added to those well-loved tropes is a new landscape with new traditions and rules. Setting it in Nigeria, with Igbo people but also Efik, allows for new magic, new histories, and more possibilities. I loved the character of Sunny, who starts out as an outsider for two reasons - she is albino, and while this is a noticeable character trait it also prevents her from social activities like football; she also was born in America and lived there most of her childhood. That is where the word "akata" comes from, it is a word that means something very negative. Apparently the Nigerian edition of the novel had to have a different title!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    This was House Salt's July book club read. Check out our live show here. 3.5 stars Things that worked: I went on a whole journey with the fact that this is usually compared to Harry Potter. On the one hand, I hate that we overuse HP as a comp title, especially for fantasy written by non-white authors. On the other hand, there were a lot of times that while reading this reminded me of Harry Potter. And because I'm writing this is 2020, when lots of people are looking to replace those books in some This was House Salt's July book club read. Check out our live show here. 3.5 stars Things that worked: I went on a whole journey with the fact that this is usually compared to Harry Potter. On the one hand, I hate that we overuse HP as a comp title, especially for fantasy written by non-white authors. On the other hand, there were a lot of times that while reading this reminded me of Harry Potter. And because I'm writing this is 2020, when lots of people are looking to replace those books in some way, I'd just like to say that while also being very different, and having more to say if you ask me, this gave me Harry Potter vibes. I really loved the magic by the end of the story. All of the elements of the world and system were imaginative, even if they were based on tropes that are well worn and well loved in the fantasy genre. Okorafor did an excellent job establishing place, and the sights and sounds of this world are something that I'll keep with me after the reading experience. This story doesn't shy away from the danger of magic and I appreciated that. The adults in this story tell them baldly how dangerous everything is. There is an on-screen death scene here that was impactful and upsetting, and taught us a lot about the world, especially considering how many of the adults brushed it off. I enjoyed Sunny as a main character and especially what she represents in the story-- an in-between sort of girl. Her powers mean she's part here and part in the spirit realm. Her background mean that she feels part American and part Nigerian. Her albinism means that she's black but faces a sort of colorism along with everyone's ableism. Her family situation was complex, which was wonderful, and I enjoyed that through her Okorafor commented on gendered expectations and the way adults can dismiss kids. With one caveat (below), I also liked the way that this combined innate abilities with performed magic. Tying their innate power to some sort of disability or to things that are commonly interpreted as "disadvantages" was really neat, particularly for the messaging of what children could achieve if we weren't so quick to label them or count them out. It also strongly promotes the ideas of mentorship and tailoring learning. Things that worked less...: When I first finished reading this, I was leaning toward a 4 star because I had a ton of fun. And I would definitely recommend it. Upon closer examination, though, there were a few things that tripped me up. First is that this definitely feels like a first book in a series, particularly for the way that it presents lots of elements and ideas from this world, but doesn't develop them very much further or deeper. This is pretty fast moving, which makes it exciting and readable, but leaves a lot of the characters feeling a bit flat. I definitely had moments with each of them, and I would care if something happened to them, but it didn't feel like we spent enough time with them to consider them favorites or to think of any of them as especially memorable. The beginning of this book relies on everyone basically telling Sunny nothing about her magic, purposefully ignoring her questions and withholding information from her. It's more understandable why at some points, but in general, this is a device I truly dislike. It makes for such a frustrating reading experience for me, especially when Sunny was asking pointed, direct questions and all we got was repetitive "not now, later" answers. This certainly settles down a bit, and we do get to see some of Sunny's frustration over this very thing, but it affected my reading experience. And it slows down the beginning of the story in a way that makes the frantic end of it even more pronounced. The resolution and the showdown with the big bad happen and is resolved so quickly. The action in that final scene is also hard to follow. As I mentioned above, some of the power in this world is tied to disability. I can't speak to any of the representation, but there was one thing that played a little weirdly, particularly because it doesn't exist in a vacuum and follows a long history of this trope. Once Sunny acquires a certain amount of power, she loses the sun sensitivity tied to her albinism. It is explained by the sort of magic she obtains, but reads like an at least partly magical cure. Sunny still has albinism and she still has to live her life in mostly the same ways, so "cure" is a strong word to apply, but just a heads up that that exists in the story. I am definitely going to read the next book because even for its faults, this was fast-paced and engaging and had a lot to say. CW: Ableism, violence, on-screen fight and death scene, fatphobia, smoking.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    5 Damn Stars! THIS WAS SOOO GOOD!!! Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up, but it didn't take me long to realize what a gem I had stumbled upon. Okay so Sunny is an albino girl, of 12-ish, and she gets a glimpse of what is to happen in her world, but she isn't all the way sure of what she saw in the flames that night (not a spoiler, it's in the prologue). Normally she is reduced to name calling, being left out, picked on all because, kids are cruel, and albinism is not looked 5 Damn Stars! THIS WAS SOOO GOOD!!! Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up, but it didn't take me long to realize what a gem I had stumbled upon. Okay so Sunny is an albino girl, of 12-ish, and she gets a glimpse of what is to happen in her world, but she isn't all the way sure of what she saw in the flames that night (not a spoiler, it's in the prologue). Normally she is reduced to name calling, being left out, picked on all because, kids are cruel, and albinism is not looked upon in the best of light but one day she meets Orlu and Chichi and they see something in her that she never knew existed. They take to her soon to be teacher, and initiate her into their world and there was no turning back. She finds out that she is part of a magical world that consists of Leopard people (magical folk) and that it has been passed down in her family to her. On the flip side of all this discovery, there is a problem happening in her village, where kids are being taken and are being killed, and it's not until later that a connection is made and Sunny and her friends (Chichi, Orlu and Sasha) are put on a path to stop him (Black Hat). This book is very reminiscent to that of Harry Potter, expect it takes place in Nigeria instead of the UK. There is a magic system, magical people, no wands (just juju knives), spells, and levels of mastery. This book is so visual that it would be a FANTASTIC movie or television series. It would blow people minds on all the imagery that Dr. Okorafor has put in this book. Sunny, as a main character is a wonderful girl!! She's smart, tough, athletic, and she doesn't let people get away with treating her like she doesn't belong just because she is a girl or an albino. She's a fearless chick who has made some great friends and this story, her story is a great read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Marie

    Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor First in the Akata Witch series 4.5 stars "Lies are a thing of the physical world. They can't exist in the spirit world." Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born in America. She is both Nigerian and American. An outsider who belongs. Sunny is different from her family in more ways than one. She’s albino, but she has also seen the end of the world in the flame of a candle. She’s a free agent— a Leopard Person who is not from a family of Leopard People. She has no knowl Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor First in the Akata Witch series 4.5 stars "Lies are a thing of the physical world. They can't exist in the spirit world." Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born in America. She is both Nigerian and American. An outsider who belongs. Sunny is different from her family in more ways than one. She’s albino, but she has also seen the end of the world in the flame of a candle. She’s a free agent— a Leopard Person who is not from a family of Leopard People. She has no knowledge of the magic that flows within her or the spirit world that is both her friend and enemy. There’s a serial killer pillaging the streets and killing kids and it’s up to her and three new friends to stop him. This is unique. When I requested this novel, I hadn’t realized that Nnedi Okorafor was the author of Binti, a hugely popular scifi that has been sweeping the book world by storm. This is my first time reading Okorafor’s work and it will not be my last. The writing is beautiful and the storytelling is rich. Okorafor merges the world of Nigeria with the hidden world of Leopard Knocks seamlessly. The imagery is stunning and one of my favorite things about Akata Witch was the excerpts from the book about Free Agents. We learned about Leopard People as Sunny does and it puts the reader on equal footing with Sunny. It makes the story more intimate because the reader develops relationships and knowledge as the main protagonist does. It’s a wonderful, well-developed story full of magic, mischief, and innocence. Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75 The main female character is Sunny. Sunny is a very young protagonist; she’s only twelve-years-old. She doesn’t know much about the world and her thoughts can feel a little silly, but it’s important to keep in mind that Sunny is experiencing a world that is unfamiliar to her. This is a world that children know about since birth if they are born into it and this world is also brutal. There’s a scene towards the end where Sunny and her friends attend a wrestling match that results in someone dying. It’s very brutal for a child to see this, but her teacher was teaching them a valuable lesson— a lesson that becomes important to their task of defeating Black Hat. I really enjoyed Sunny as a character and I guess I have developed a maternal affection for her. I want to see her succeed in learning about and navigating this new world, but I also want her to be safe. If this series follows Sunny throughout her teen years, I know she’ll grow into a badass woman. Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.5 The other characters in Sunny’s friend group are integral to this story. Without her friends, Sunny wouldn’t know of her true self or be able to embrace who she really is. There’s ChiChi, Orlo, and Sasha. ChiChi is a wonderful character with a lot of spunk and heavy doses of snark. She’s fierce, but reckless. She’s very bright for her age (whatever that age may be), but she’s also too cocky. It puts her and others at danger, but this characterization makes ChiChi authentic and feel real. Orlo is Sunny’s classmate at the Lamb school (Lambs are outsiders who are not Leopard People, non-magic folk) and he comes to her aid after several fights. He has the unique talent of mending things that are undone and he’s reserved. Orlo calculates situations and doesn’t make rash decisions without thinking about them. He adheres to the rules of the Leopard People and doesn’t believe they should be pushed or broken. Sasha is from the United States and is outsider in Nigeria, but a Leopard Person through and through. He has a lot of power for being young, but he is reckless and has a vendetta against authority figures. He doesn’t respect those with power and believes that rules are meant to broken. He’s definitely rebellious, but he isn’t a bad person. He just makes a lot of foolish and bad decisions, but most young kids do. Together the four children have a strong bond and they are definite friendship goals. Anatov is their mentor and teacher. He’s wise and does a lot questionable things, but the lessons always outweigh the risks. Messing with juju is dangerous and it can lead to death; Anatov doesn’t let the kids forget it and leads them to many missions that can harm them. I also really enjoyed the balancing of Sunny’s family life with her new life. Her relationship with her mother, especially towards the end, takes a new shift and brought a smile upon my face. Character Scale: 5 The Villain- Black Hat is a serial killer who targets children. He takes limbs and seems to be practicing some type of ritual sacrifice. It is revealed later on that he has a role in the Leopard Knocks society and an even bigger part to the end of the world that Sunny has seen. Villain Scale: 4 My only problem, and it’s a bit of a big one, is the ending. The ending felt rushed and the big battle showdown wasn’t as climactic as the novel kept building it up to be. It felt a little too convenient and everything just worked out so well. That’s why I can’t give this novel a full 5 stars, but I’m really excited about the sequel to Akata Witch and I know that this will be a series I don’t want to miss. Plotastic Scale: 4.5 Cover Thoughts: This cover is fierce. It’s intense and I really like it. Although I must admit I love and prefer the hardcover because it captures Sunny’s innocence. This girl on the cover isn’t Sunny until the end of the novel. It feels a little too mature, but it’s still a well-done cover. Thank you, First to Read and Speak, for chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I sincerely adored this novel. It's definitely geared towards a younger crowd, but I think it was the perfect palate cleanser after finishing Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem series. It's set in Nigeria, and bounces back and forth between what seems like a smallish country village and a larger village set in the jungle. It's both lush and gritty. You get a sense of the dust in the air, the heat, the plant and insect life. The characters are unique, their voices believable. Sunny especially, I was i I sincerely adored this novel. It's definitely geared towards a younger crowd, but I think it was the perfect palate cleanser after finishing Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem series. It's set in Nigeria, and bounces back and forth between what seems like a smallish country village and a larger village set in the jungle. It's both lush and gritty. You get a sense of the dust in the air, the heat, the plant and insect life. The characters are unique, their voices believable. Sunny especially, I was incredibly fond of. She is albino, so she stands out from the other kids and experiences quite a bit of bullying. Yet she never stopped to feel sorry for herself, never wished she was something else, never let it stop her or get her down. Her relationship with her mother was also beautiful, and I am thrilled Okorafor focused on that relationship more than any possible romantic ones. The magical and cultural elements were so much fun. I loved the idea of the chittim falling from the sky as the kids learned, rewarding team work and wisdom rather than greed and a lust for power. A lot of mythical creatures were included in the story, some fun and some scary. I'm torn on whether the content is necessarily appropriate for middle grade. There is a serial killer on the loose and he is abducting, mutilating and killing children. I'm sort of sensitive to these things but I didn't feel that it was all that graphic here. To me, graphic is when a character witnesses it up close and personal, describing it in detail, here, it was mentioned in passing as newspaper articles. So I think it depends a lot on the person reading it as to whether it would be too scary or not. There were a couple things holding it back from being a five star read for me. The first was the believability factor. I can't really expand on this more without some serious spoilers, but it only really struck me in a couple places. Being a fantasy, I was able to ignore it pretty easily. The second was that the climax all happened in one very quick chapter and it didn't seem like it was given much thought. This is definitely a book about the journey and not the destination, so again, I can look past it in favor of all the other things there were to love. I will definitely be checking out Akata Warrior and Okorafor's other works in the future. I would recommend this to anyone looking for something different from the standard fantasy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    *COMES INTO YOUR MENTIONS LIKE A RECCING BALL* Hi everyone this book is on sale for $2.99 right now, so if you like me were waiting for a price drop, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE Edit: This is going to be my next read after I finish WOLF OF OREN-YARO. I actually cheated and read about 25% of it already and I really like it. Don't be worried by the comparisons to Harry Potter, that's really not the best. It's more like THE MAGICIANS, but set in Nigeria, and the characters are actually likable. Also, people ha *COMES INTO YOUR MENTIONS LIKE A RECCING BALL* Hi everyone this book is on sale for $2.99 right now, so if you like me were waiting for a price drop, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE Edit: This is going to be my next read after I finish WOLF OF OREN-YARO. I actually cheated and read about 25% of it already and I really like it. Don't be worried by the comparisons to Harry Potter, that's really not the best. It's more like THE MAGICIANS, but set in Nigeria, and the characters are actually likable. Also, people have spirit faces and bad-ass juju knives.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Uche Ogbuji

    I'll just quote fromt he conclusion of my TNB review: What I personally love best about the novel is how well it plays on the confusion of identities that affect so many Nigerians, especially those who've split time between Nigeria and the U.S. or Europe as children. I certainly remember returning from America to Nigeria at the age of ten, after seven years abroad, and encountering hostility and ridicule as an outsider, feeling as if I didn't really belong on any of the three continents I'd calle I'll just quote fromt he conclusion of my TNB review: What I personally love best about the novel is how well it plays on the confusion of identities that affect so many Nigerians, especially those who've split time between Nigeria and the U.S. or Europe as children. I certainly remember returning from America to Nigeria at the age of ten, after seven years abroad, and encountering hostility and ridicule as an outsider, feeling as if I didn't really belong on any of the three continents I'd called home at one time or another, and finding my way mostly in the company of fellow misfits. Akata Witch integrates these experiences neatly into a greater framework, ultimately grounding itself in the age-old storyline clash between earnest goodness and utter evil. Reading the book is a transporting experience but with a good deal of shocks and jolts that bring the narrative suddenly near at hand. I suspect I gained much particular enjoyment from the familiar flashes of tradition and language, but I suspect other less familiar readers would enjoy the same bits as flashes of exotic wonder without losing the story. No less an august commentator than Ursula K. Le Guin said "There's more vivid imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor's work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics."  If you want a fresh take on novels about children immersed in a magical world, in a colorful and engaging setting, I highly recommend Akata Witch.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    EDIT: I tried again but DNF'ed at page 83. I feel as disconcerted as Sunny because I feel like there's all this info dump, and all that craziness about thr Leopard people and the society (buildings, schools, etc) hiding behind a bridge, and I don't know, I just couldn't take the leap of faith required to follow the story because I felt no conexion to the characters or to the story itself. Instead it all seemed kinda rushed to me, like instead of taking its time to ease the reader into the story EDIT: I tried again but DNF'ed at page 83. I feel as disconcerted as Sunny because I feel like there's all this info dump, and all that craziness about thr Leopard people and the society (buildings, schools, etc) hiding behind a bridge, and I don't know, I just couldn't take the leap of faith required to follow the story because I felt no conexion to the characters or to the story itself. Instead it all seemed kinda rushed to me, like instead of taking its time to ease the reader into the story we were on some sort of rush... I really wanted to like this story this time arpund as I love Own Voice authors, but I just couldn't enter into the story... again. _____________ ______________ _____________ I was enjoying the book until the main character goes through the initiation ritual. That she follows without explanations given, they talk as if she wasn't there, offer no explanation or introduction... after the initiation ritual for which she hasn't voluntered and hasn't being told about she still follows them even though she thinks they are crazy at the beginning... I dunno, I didn't buy it. Also, the characters seemed very archetipical to me, and their relarionships kind of forced instead of developed over time and actions...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kiera

    This Young Adult novel set in Nigeria follows Sunny who was born in New York and looks African but is albino. Sunny feels like she doesn't fit in. Untill her friends Orlu and Chichi reveal that they have magical abilities, and so does Sunny. But Sunny and her friends have been asked to track down a serial killer who's abilities are much stronger than theirs. I am in love with this story. It felt kind of Harry Potter-ish, if Harry was a girl and the story was set in Nigeria. The whole thing with b This Young Adult novel set in Nigeria follows Sunny who was born in New York and looks African but is albino. Sunny feels like she doesn't fit in. Untill her friends Orlu and Chichi reveal that they have magical abilities, and so does Sunny. But Sunny and her friends have been asked to track down a serial killer who's abilities are much stronger than theirs. I am in love with this story. It felt kind of Harry Potter-ish, if Harry was a girl and the story was set in Nigeria. The whole thing with buying the juju knife and also the money and how 'lambs' couldn't see 'leopards' because of the juju. But I was okay with it. The soccer game?.?..was totally pointless though. I mean I get that some people like soccer but I'm really not a sports person. The magic system is so cool and original. At first I was like juju? That's stupid, and to be honest I'm still like what kind of name is juju? But. It's so cool. I love how the chittim (money) falls from the sky when they learn. The magic system is so interesting and I can't wait to read Amara Witch and learn more about it. Sunny-- Sunny is out brave main character who is albino. She loves soccer but because she is so sensitive to the sun she can only play at night. Sunny finds out that she has magical powers. It was really interesting to see Sunny navigate her way through the magic and learn about it. Sasha-- Sasha was so funny. I loved his character. I really liked how he stood up to the boys and the soccer game and told them to let Sunny play. Overall he was just such a fun character and I can't wait to read more about him. Overall the magic system was so interesting and perfect. The writing style was beautiful. Akata Witch was so exciting and addicting, I literally couldn't put it down, it was so interesting. I can't wait to read more from Nnedi Okorafor. 5 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    I really enjoyed this. One of the things I love about Okorafor's writing is the unique voice she brings to her stories. Her characters come alive easily for the reader, and they are all so individual and unique. Aside from anything else, this book does a great job delving into questions of identity. Although this is a typical theme for YA stories, it is also one that seems particularly important here. Sunny is confronted with understanding herself from many sides: her place as an American born N I really enjoyed this. One of the things I love about Okorafor's writing is the unique voice she brings to her stories. Her characters come alive easily for the reader, and they are all so individual and unique. Aside from anything else, this book does a great job delving into questions of identity. Although this is a typical theme for YA stories, it is also one that seems particularly important here. Sunny is confronted with understanding herself from many sides: her place as an American born Nigerian, a Leopard (or magically inclined) person born into a Lamb (or non-magical) family, a girl in a male dominated culture, and an albino on top of everything else. This book was, for me, a surprisingly satisfying one, and I'm so glad I picked it up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    Born in New York City, but living in Nigeria, twelve-year-old Sunny feels like she’s straddling two worlds. This becomes even more true when she discovers her magical abilities and enters the world of Leopard people. This book is one of the most original and woke fantasy stories I’ve ever read. It openly discusses bullying, racism, beauty standards, police brutality in the United States, and greed. All month I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I meet, kids and adults alike. — Alison Dohe Born in New York City, but living in Nigeria, twelve-year-old Sunny feels like she’s straddling two worlds. This becomes even more true when she discovers her magical abilities and enters the world of Leopard people. This book is one of the most original and woke fantasy stories I’ve ever read. It openly discusses bullying, racism, beauty standards, police brutality in the United States, and greed. All month I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I meet, kids and adults alike. — Alison Doherty from The Best Books We Read In August 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/08/31/riot-r...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)

    (Full Review at http://www.craftyscribbles.com) Okay. Let's discuss the elephant in the room. Akata Witch has been nicknamed the African (Nigerian) Harry Potter. While there are some influences, overall this story respects the cultural magic realism hailing from Nigeria and other African countries. Hate to break this truth to some readers, but J.K. Rowling doesn't hold the copyright to magical realism in books, particularly when you see cultural aspects she nicked for her stories. But, we'll save (Full Review at http://www.craftyscribbles.com) Okay. Let's discuss the elephant in the room. Akata Witch has been nicknamed the African (Nigerian) Harry Potter. While there are some influences, overall this story respects the cultural magic realism hailing from Nigeria and other African countries. Hate to break this truth to some readers, but J.K. Rowling doesn't hold the copyright to magical realism in books, particularly when you see cultural aspects she nicked for her stories. But, we'll save that pot of tea for another discussion. As the blurb states, 12-year Sunny is a Nigerian-American, living in Nigeria with her parents after living in the U.S. for nine years. She's an outcast - an Akata or "wild animal" - not only because of her ethnicity and birth country, but because of her albinism. Deep down, she's a normal kid, enjoying soccer (football), getting good grades and suffering from school bullies. But, as she reaches deeper into her soul, there's a calling within her soul she cannot tag.  She meets to fellow kids, Orlu and Chichi (another kid, Sasha, an African-American, joins the group) and they discover their souls are intertwined for greater roles some of they knew, but still couldn't imagine. They form a leopard coven (lambs equate to muggles, if you insist on following the HP world) and with training, find themselves battling an evil rogue using children and ritual killing to bring on a vicious spirit. Will she accept her gifted fate? Or, will she cower and decide being ordinary's not so bad? Nnedi Okorafor clearly writes with love as she showcases rich and varied Nigerian traditions within magical realism. I'm not Nigerian. In fact, I do not know where my African heritage descends (Another story for another day). Okorafor schools me on foods, language, and aspects of her culture better than any documentary.  Furthermore, she paints the landscape strong. I see the dust, mud, and urbane landscapes with Leopard Knocks (Okay, her version of Diagon Alley. Give it a rest!). Yet, while the latter's fictional, those markets described in Akata Witch are real with a magical spin. Additional, each kid she created holds their own personality. None of them blur. They stand distinct (although Sasha worked a nerve or two for me). They are spirited and melancholic, joyous and angry. They realize the hardcore job ahead and all encompassing it. While rough in some areas (mainly, reading about the ritual killing and maiming), this story presents fantasy, a genre which I tend to shy from, in a palatable manner and I cannot wait to read the next book in her series, Akata Warrior. However, while I highly recommend this story, AW has one glitch: the ending. The battle's way too short for the amount of build-up presented. But, given Okorafor's series, my inpatient self will have to move on the next book. While fantasy's lack of diversity speaks volumes - I mean, you can create blue fairies but not people based on real folks - this is a story worthy of reading. Adapt this book into a movie...stat. Verdict: 4.5/5 Chittems (Read the book to get the reference)  *Thanks to Penguin's First Reads Program for an honest and unbiased review*

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mili

    I wasnt sure what to expect of Akata Witch. The title and cover tugged at me so bad, they are awesome! This is a middle grade series that works for all ages in my opinion. Im so glad I picked it up :D All thanks to Bookstagram~ Nnedi Okorafor creates a magical world where you follow a group of kids that form a strong friendship. And slowly you get to learn the magical culture of Nigeria. The country has beautiful names. And I loved that she used, I think, Nigerian words to describe things. It ha I wasnt sure what to expect of Akata Witch. The title and cover tugged at me so bad, they are awesome! This is a middle grade series that works for all ages in my opinion. Im so glad I picked it up :D All thanks to Bookstagram~ Nnedi Okorafor creates a magical world where you follow a group of kids that form a strong friendship. And slowly you get to learn the magical culture of Nigeria. The country has beautiful names. And I loved that she used, I think, Nigerian words to describe things. It has an mysterious and adventurious setting, you follow the friends who are part of the magic people called the Leopard people. One of them, the main character Sunny is an Albino. She stands out. As she gets to know her new friends better she gets involved in magic. And weird ass shit starts to happen as she gets to know her true self. I love how Sunny and Chichi are strong females, very mouthy and direct :D At some point it really felt like Ghibli's crazy magical and imaginative adventures!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Auntie Terror

    The final standoff was surprisingly short - but somehow I feel that that wasn't the main point of the book anyway. ;-) [prtf] The final standoff was surprisingly short - but somehow I feel that that wasn't the main point of the book anyway. ;-) [prtf]

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amerie

    Phenomenal. Rich and cozy with that “it” quality that makes a book stay with you for a very long time. Highly recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    ALet

    dnf it's definitely not a bad book, but i just lost interest dnf it's definitely not a bad book, but i just lost interest

  29. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    [3.5 Stars. 4 Stars?] When I first finished this, my gut reaction was to give it 4 stars. I enjoyed seeing Sunny learn about magic and herself as she's thrust into this high-stakes world of Leopard people and dangerous foes. I liked that this magical world is quite dangerous and the adults of this world don't try to coddle the children. I thought how magic manifested in each Leopard person was really interesting because it always had to do with some perceived fault which turned out to be one of t [3.5 Stars. 4 Stars?] When I first finished this, my gut reaction was to give it 4 stars. I enjoyed seeing Sunny learn about magic and herself as she's thrust into this high-stakes world of Leopard people and dangerous foes. I liked that this magical world is quite dangerous and the adults of this world don't try to coddle the children. I thought how magic manifested in each Leopard person was really interesting because it always had to do with some perceived fault which turned out to be one of their strengths. I loved that the way to get ahead in this world is to continue to grow as a person and to learn as much as you can. All of that was really great. After the House Salt Book Club live show though, I'm more leaning toward a 3.5 stars as we identified elements that didn't quite work. Link to the live show (spoilers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4pB8... I think my main hold up is that the main characters don't have much of a personal stake with confronting the antagonist, and it all happens/is resolved really quickly. I would have liked to see the characters get more personally invested in defeating the antagonist and have some sort of deadline that puts them under more pressure to get as prepared as possible. I still had a blast reading this however, and I plan to continue on and read Akata Warrior.

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! I was mesmerized by books one and two of the Binti series but couldn’t get a hold of the third book quickly. I then spotted this book instead. I thought it was a novella. Nope! While the Binti series is sci-fi, this one is young adult fantasy. It had a completely different feel from the author’s other works and I loved it. The story centers around 12 year old Sunny. She was born in the US but currently lives in Nigeria with her family. Not only does Sunny’s Americanism set he Ahoy there me mateys! I was mesmerized by books one and two of the Binti series but couldn’t get a hold of the third book quickly. I then spotted this book instead. I thought it was a novella. Nope! While the Binti series is sci-fi, this one is young adult fantasy. It had a completely different feel from the author’s other works and I loved it. The story centers around 12 year old Sunny. She was born in the US but currently lives in Nigeria with her family. Not only does Sunny’s Americanism set her apart but so does her albinism. Yet Sunny tries her best to be a normal kid and to do well in school. She is bullied and one day is attacked by a popular female classmate. Only one person tries to come to her aid, a boy named Orlu. As she and Orlu become friends, Sunny soon discovers that she may have the magical powers of the Leopard People. How did she get these powers? And how is she supposed to help stop a killer? I loved the magical system of this book. I loved that magic had very dangerous side effects and rules. I loved that Sunny still has to stay in “regular” school in addition to her magical training. I loved her friendships. I loved that her family was present in the book even if there were problems. I loved the rich tapestry of world building involved with the Leopard People. I wanted to go into the magical bookstore! This book was another that led me to read more about the history of the Leopard People, Igbo people, and Efik people. I loved reading about the Efik, particularly the section about the written language mentioned in the book. I will certainly be reading the next book in the series once I get ahold of it. Arrr! Side note: Lots of people seem to be calling this series the African Harry Potter. Personally I think it trivializes a book that completely stands on its own. Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

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