Review: Akata Witch/Warrior (Nnedi Okorafor)

This is Nnedi Okorafor’s young adult books.  I can’t wait to start reading Binti next (I found it on Google Play sale and already have it downloaded… now I just need time).

Akata Witch & Akata Warrior both follow Sunny as she learns her albino curse isn’t a curse but a sign that she is a witch.  In the best of ways.  Americans hear the word “juju” and think New Orleans and voodoo, but Nigerian juju is neither good nor bad itself- it is just the word for magic.

The book starts with a bang and follows some relatively traditional paths as far as plot points.  Both books I knew when I was coming up to the climax not because of rising action (and with ebooks not by how much paper each hand is holding…) but because we’d hit some pretty clear plot-arcs.  That would be my harshest criticism – its plot is awesome but patterned.  Especially the second book. To be honest, when we hit that mid-point of “oh, something is going to go very, very wrong here…” yeah I thought that.

BUT, this a young adult novel so I think that pacing isn’t inappropriate.  I have read hundreds of books – of course I might notice the patterns.  It also doesn’t mean the patterns are bad – they get used for very good reasons – THEY WORK.

Ok, so let’s get into this:

Characters: Sunny, Orlu, Chichi & Sasha are friends & Leopard People – people with magic in Nigeria.  Sunny was born in America, lived here for 9 years, and then her family moved back to Nigeria (where her parents were from).  It creates a character who can think about “this would be weird in America – here’s why” without feeling like exposition or condescension.

World Building: This is one of those things I really liked.  I don’t like a lot of urban fantasy because sometimes it’s hard to see the inter-mixing of the magical & non-magical.  There is either a strict divide (ie Harry Potter) or an underworld.  And although technically Sunny’s magical world could be argued as the latter, it is intermixed in a way I haven’t seen and I like better than the standard.  Especially because “the wilderness” is something I have read of in myth (I even have a story idea where I use it).

Overall: 4/5 it is young adult and though I think anyone who has read Harry Potter will probably enjoy it, there are some elements that closed-minded people might not be able to handle. Like imperfections providing strength.