Akata Witch

Akata Witch

Book - 2011
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Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2011.
ISBN: 9780670011964
0670011967
9780142420911
Branch Call Number: Y Fic
Characteristics: 349 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

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From Library Staff

Some people have called "Akata Witch" 'the Nigerian "Harry Potter",' so you should check it out for yourself and see if you agree. Sunny is an albino girl who has recently moved to Nigeria from New York and is trying to find her place in a world where she never seems to fit. T... Read More »


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d
dnk
Mar 02, 2021

I disagree with most other reviewers. This didn't feel like Harry Potter at all to me, though maybe the publishers hoped it would. (In general, it's weird that so many readers act as if HP was the first book about a child discovering that they have magical powers or are inducted into a magical world, but I digress.) If anything, this felt more like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-esque story set in Nigeria: as much as they received some instructions from their teachers and mentors, they were sent by them to battle with the Big Bads without knowing everything they needed to.

Much has been made about the world-building, but the characters were fantastic as well, particularly Sunny and her band of "Scoobies": serious Orlu, brilliant and insouciant Chichi, and defiant Sasha. Everything about the characters and their interactions made sense, which made their actions seem character-driven.

What I loved most about the world-building was that what we consider abnormalities are in this world signs of greatness, whether it's an albino girl being able to make herself invisible as well as travel between spirit and physical worlds, or someone with ADHD being able to "undo" powerful magic. That "perfection" is over-rated is an important message for any age group.

My only disappointment was that the final battle with the ultimate Big Bad felt a little flat. I would have liked to have seen more of a buildup. Here's hoping that's more drawn out in the next book.

j
JWallis_1
Feb 27, 2021

Absolutely loved Akata Witch (& the 2nd book Akata Warrior)! Getting to know Sunny and follow her on her journey of discovery (that she's a witch & magic is real) was so engrossing and well written that I almost didn't care about the actual story (a mysterious villain called Black Hat Otokoto who is kidnapping and maiming children). I wish there were more books in the series. My husband also loved this series.

JCLJoshN Nov 16, 2020

A rich, fun take on "kid discovers they have magic powers and are inducted into a magical society hidden from the mundane world." I really, really love the worldbuilding, it's quirky, mythic, wondrous, and creepy. And the plot zips along without feeling rushed. There are so many little bits to this book that made me smile, I couldn't possibly list them all here, but I'll start with: spirit faces, mysterious books, an eerie library, a train that isn't a train, a soccer match, and insect companions. And there's much more.

i
Irzabeta
Feb 26, 2020

I really wanted to like Akata Witch, but I just couldn’t. Ironically, the book’s greatest strength is part of why I didn't enjoy it. And that strength was world-building.

This is a modern-day fantasy set in Nigeria. It follows the protagonist, American-born Sunny, and her friends Orlu, Chichi and Sasha as they become students of various wizard teachers and learn about the world of wizards. In other words, think Harry Potter.

The world-building is fun and creative. What a wonderful setting for a fantasy. African cultures and myths provide so much material that there needs to be many more stories set there. It was fascinating and I learned a lot.

Unfortunately, that’s why the book failed for me as well. I’m not a fan of young adult books so perhaps I already had a bias. Regardless, I was so bored throughout most of the book. This book felt like just a set-up for a series. There were a lot of introductions of adult characters and, as I said, a LOT of worldbuilding. There were many scenes that seemed to have little purpose than to explain the magical world and the magic system. That can be great, but there needs to be tension as well. Even though there was a villain, he was a weak presence. He was mentioned a few of times and does some terrible things, but his appearance at the end was quite anti-climactic.

I also thought the four main characters were too simplistic. There was the rebel, the sort-of princess, the good boy, and the spunky main character who has to overcome her own unique challenges. I think their ages ranged from 12 to 14, but they seemed so much older. And, really, would adults really send four teens out to combat an evil sorcerer? Hmmmmm……

Anyway, big disappointment. Great world, but lackluster plot and dull characters.

AndreaG_KCMO Feb 07, 2020

I agree that this book is vivid and imaginative--the Leopard people reside in a unique dual reality created by Okorafor. The culture of this group is ENDLESSLY frustrating to me with the condescension and denial of information. Some secrets unfurl over time, but so much goes unsaid that I can't imagine the reader (and the protagonist) ever fully understanding the Leopards. Is that the author's intent? It seems more of an oversight.

RyanR_KCMO Jan 28, 2020

This book is delightful for the colorful worldbuilding, if nothing else. It delves deep into West-African tradition and mysticism and paints a world with many layers. It is best read if you do not delve too deeply into the narrative questions. It becomes quite maddening how much EVERYONE in this book enjoys withholding information. There are apparent parallels to Harry Potter here, but none so blatant as the tendency of adults to keep kids in the dark about almost everything while asking a great deal of them. Still, a delightfully quick read.

AlishaH_KCMO Jan 23, 2020

Born in the United States but living in Nigeria, twelve year old Sunny feels even more like an outsider because on top of being albino, she just discovered she has magic in her blood and spirit and is known as a Leopard. Sunny's quickly thrown into the world of Leopard people to practice and learn because her and her group of friends now must save the world.

There were many things I enjoyed about this novel - the world building that was uniquely crafted had me sitting right along side the characters. I loved that learning and knowledge is what was valued in the world of Leopards over money.

However, this book didn't 100% work for me.

The book is labeled at "YA" and maybe it's right they do so since there are some more graphic scenes and subject manner, but the voice and vibe of the book is very juvenile. It threw me off the book a bit before I realized.

I could never remember how old the children were - I could remember they were young but the way they acted were much older in my opinion. Sure, you can chop it up to being mature, but that wasn't really it either. The way they talked and interacted with each other made me keep putting them closer to fourteen or fifteen. It also doesn't help how hands off the adults seem to be in the teaching of the children. Just throw them into danger and if they come out alive, that's great - if they don't, the world will still turn.

The pacing of the book threw me off a bit too. We'd have really intense scenes that felt like they were almost glossed over and I got lost in. Others, I'd be excited to read about Sunny's lessons and they would just be summarized as what happen within the last week or month. The ending and the final fight seemed to just run up and smack me in the face and then was gone. It felt like it was missing so much.

Overall I did enjoy the book though and I will be picking up the second in the series to continue the story.

h
Herbivore_Reader
Dec 31, 2019

Not as good as the Okorafor's Binti series, in my opinion. A little bit derivative of Harry Potter (although, Okorafor is hardly alone in this) and, at times, stumbles in the writing. Still, an enjoyable read--as is the sequel, Akata Warrior. I especially loved how Okorafor made the story authentically African (Nigerian, to be specific). That alone makes it worth reading. And, I hope, a harbinger of things to come.

h
Horses88
Oct 26, 2019

Amazing! An enjoyable read.

b
Beezer13
Jul 15, 2019

This book really brings to light how different we all are, and that imperfections just make you better. If you enjoy books that involve fantasy and adventure, it is a must read. Imagine that The Hunger Games had a baby with Harry Potter.

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IndyPL_JosephL Mar 28, 2019

IndyPL_JosephL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Natashastales
Nov 28, 2017

Natashastales thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Natashastales
Nov 28, 2017

Frightening or Intense Scenes: This could be a little frightening. So warning before you read.

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