Sunday, February 4, 2018

*Review* Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: April 14, 2011
Pages: 349

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?

I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. 

I was initially drawn into this story, wanting to learn more about the chittim and trying to understand how they were earned, much like Sunny was. There were a lot of things that just confused me though (although as the story is told through Sunny's perspective and she doesn't fully understand most things initially it would make sense that I would also be confused). I thought it was a bit weird that Sunny was made to do things without any explanations about what was expected of her first though. I'm not sure if that makes the learning more profitable for her somehow, or if the kids were just being thoughtless, or maybe a little bit of both. In any case, I yelled at them a few times to just tell her what she needed to do. 

My issue with the book is that it felt like a Harry Potter knockoff at times. For example, a group of young Leopard people (witches & wizards) are trained to face off against a powerful adult Leopard person, much like Harry, Ron, and Hermione faced off against Voldemort over and over again. There were a few other similarities too, but I don't want to go too much into them because of spoilers. In the end, the similarities just made the book fall a little flat for me. 

I give Akata Witch 3.0984746737 stars. - Katie 

Nnedi Okorafor’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (a Publisher's Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her adult novel The Book of Phoenix (prequel to Who Fears Death) was released in May 2015; the New York Times called it a "triumph". Her novella Binti will be released in late September 2015 and her young adult novel Akata Witch 2: Breaking Kola will be released in 2016. 

Nnedi holds a PhD in literature/creative writing and is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY). She splits her time between Buffalo and Chicago with her daughter Anyaugo and family. Learn more about Nnedi at

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