Sunday, December 4, 2011

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny is a misfit lwho lives in Nigeria, was born in America, and is an albino. “Ghost girl,” the students tease at school. Her skin so sensitive to the sun that she has to use an umbrella whenever she is outside and she can’t play soccer – not that it matters – the males in her society always remind her that “girls don’t play soccer.” When Sunny is helped by the boy, Orlu, from being beat up by the class bully, they strike up a friendship that has Sunny meeting Orlu’s friends Chichi and Sasha. Chichi recognizes magic in Sunny who becomes initiated into the Leopard People. Regular people who can’t use magic are called, Lambs. The group of four learns magic and must figure out how to stop a man who is sacrificing children to an evil spirit he is trying to raise from it’s slumber.

This book was so unique in how it captures Nigeria, its customs, traditions, languages, and superstitions. I also like how Sunny is an American living in Nigeria and what it is like feeling as an outcast. Sasha is in the same situation. Before each chapter there is a page that gives facts about the Leopard People and how they came into existence and use magic. Sunny is a likeable character who grows in confidence from the beginning of the story until the end. She is bullied in the beginning, wonders what her place is in the world, and by the end she stands up for herself so that her father can’t slap her, the bully can’t beat her up, and she can play soccer with the boys regardless of her sex. The plot is face-paced and entertaining. I did think the ending is setup for a sequel. I had more questions than answers at the end, especially after Sunny reads her grandmothers note. Theauthor doesn’t explain the tribes and their history in a satisfactory way. I also thought the end scene with the villian was rushed. It should have dragged out more and shown more internal conflicts going on with the characters.

There are some things you should know about when reading this story so you aren’t surprised. There is swearing by the four kids in the book and children are being killed by a serial killer so it is darker than your average fantasy story. There is violence from the serial killer with kids losing their eyes and a fight at a festival where someone is killed. I didn’t really understand why that was in there or how it advanced the plot. The kids are punished by being whipped. Also, Sunny and Orlu become boyfriend and girlfriend… sort of. And Chichi and Sasha definitely are boyfriend and girlfriend. They all kiss. Chichi and Sasha smoke cigarettes. People compare this to Harry Potter and while it has some plot parallels it is for a more mature reader than Harry Potter.
Young Adult

:-):-):-) 3.75 out of 5 Smileys

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