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Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,002 ratings  ·  502 reviews
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying t ...more
Hardcover, 349 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Viking Children's
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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
This is a lovely YA novel. It contains some similarities to the author's adult novel, Who Fears Death: a strong female protagonist who is just coming into her own power; a band of young friends who need to take on a larger evil; an African setting (far-future Sudan in that case, present day Nigeria in this one). If I remember correctly, both also begin with first-person sequences in which the protagonist gets a hint of her own power, and then segue into third-person for the remainder of the book ...more
So, first of all, holy crap, a fantasy novel about an albino girl in Nigeria that doesn't spend its time exoticizing albinism or Africa! (I could have simply written, holy crap, a fantasy novel about an albino girl in Nigeria, but the fact that it was done right made me really happy.)

This book's greatest strength is definitely the worldbuilding. I loved the magic and magical community in this book; Harry Potter comparisons can be made simply because both authors have a flair for inventing vivid
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
Sunny has always been different. She's Nigerian, but was raised in America and has the pale coloring of an albino. And in adolescence, it turns out she's magic, as well. Although magic lets her play soccer in the sun and see wasps that create tiny fantastical scupltures, it also alerts her to grave danger. A magician named Black Hat is mutilating and sacrificing children, and only Sunny and her oha coven can stop him.

I like some components of this book much more than others. The background chara
3.5 stars
The Nigerian setting and the system of magic were what I liked most about this book and what I thought were the novel's greatest strengths. I loved the vocabulary that went with both, although a glossary for the Igbo words would have been nice.
I like learning about about other cultures, ideally through travel; by necessity, though, it's mostly through reading. The setting here provided neat glimpses into Nigeria's culture and language and in the way the country's official language Engl
I finished reading Nnedi Okorafor's YA fantasy Akata Witch on the flight to Colorado last week. I then recommended the book to a number of different people at the conference. It’s fun, interesting, fast-paced, and just plain good.

I’ve seen a few reviews that describe the book as being inspired by or too similar to Harry Potter. Both are coming-of-age stories about children who discover they have magic. Both protagonists explore a hidden magical community, and ultimately, they both have to face a
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

For a fantasy set in Nigeria, involving not only magic but violent serial murders, this book was remarkably dull. There was a lot of walking and expositing, and the setting, which could have been excitingly different from the genre-fallbacks, was oddly blank. Except for specific things which were described, I didn't get much sense of place. But my main complaint was the characters. I vaguely disliked most of them, but overall found them flat. Even when a teacher puts them in mortal danger they c ...more
So far this book is really different and refreshing! An albino Nigerian girl discovers her latent magical powers and a whole new world of magic hiding in plain sight. I want to call her the Nigerian Harry Potter, but that feels wrong. This book is so new and different it is nothing like anything I have ever read, but it still has that magiccal feel of discovery that makes HP so fun.

Also the setting is so rich: mud huts and albino skin, red stew and dark earth, red blood and white bone--every se
Cara M
I went with the three stars - I liked this book - because I did like it, I think. It was interesting, clear, and plainspoken, and a window into a world that could have been utterly foreign, but instead was instantly familiar, because it was familiar to the narrator. As a linguist, I loved the depiction of languages in this book, Igbo, Efik, Yoruba, English, French, Arabic, Hausa, and the way all the languages touched, the way people spoke Igbo with a Yoruba accent, or needed a translator between ...more
Heading: To Thine Ownself Be True

In Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, 12 year-old Sunny is trying to find her fit in the world based on who she is as a person, but is challenged by how others see her. After being born in America, and living her first years there, Sunny is currently living in Nigeria with her parents and brothers, as her parents decided to return to their homeland. She is constantly bullied at school because she is an “akata,” a derogatory term for an American of African descent, an
Claire Scott
12-year-old Sunny is caught between worlds: she’s Igbo Nigerian-American, born in the United States but living in Nigeria, a wonderful soccer player who rarely goes in the sun because of her albinism, and most of all, discovering that she’s the only magical member of her non-magical family. Oh, and she has to save the world. Okorafor has taken an undeniably formulaic fantasy structure – a feisty outsider heroine makes friends, learns to control her powers, and discovers her true self -- and crea ...more
I was ready to be all "This is like The Dark is Rising but with West African setting and mythology instead of British!" Skimming the comments below, I see that Harry Potter is apparently the proper comparison. Have I lost all credibility because I haven't read Harry Potter?

This is a long book. It isn't so much super-long as that it has a lot of stuff going on. I thought to myself halfway through "It is OKAY that this is so long, because maybe she decided it would be better as one long book than
Oh, I really liked this one. It was really vivid and creative, and had better disability politics than Who Fears Death. Good characters, too. It actually had a lot of the same elements as Who Fears Death, it kind of felt kinda like this was a YA version exploring some of the same themes. Don't know if I would have noticed it so strongly if I hadn't read them so close together or not. Anyway, this was very good. I'm excited to read the next one.
Feb 25, 2015 Stacia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of YA fantasy lit
Shelves: 2015, africa
This is a YA novel that has some similarities to Harry Potter & The Mysterious Benedict Society, but with a West African/Nigerian base of myth, legend, & fantasy. I'm not usually a fan of YA lit, but this one kept me reading for the cultural uniqueness. I'd recommend it for middle grade children who have enjoyed HP or other recent fantasy novels, but who are looking for something a bit uncommon added to the canon. A caveat -- sensitive types might find part of the storyline frightening ( ...more
To quote my midway report to a friend: "Most fantasy is saturated with European ideas about what fantasy magic worlds are like: elves, mountains, Germanic forests, castles, wizards, witches, etc.
This is a different type of fantasy that I think is refreshing and new, but still familiar to Caribbean and (I assume) African readers because of the cultural knowledge about folktales and regional magic practices like Obeah and Voodoo. I imagine others with knowledge about non-European cultural knowledg
I've seen lots of reviews calling this "the Nigerian Harry Potter", and that's somewhat accurate. A lot of Harry Potter fans would probably enjoy it, and there are a number of details that seem to be a homage to the Potter books. The Leopard/Lamb (Wizard/Muggle) dichotomy, the hidden and cheerfully chaotic nature of Leopard Knocks (a lot like Diagon Alley), the funky train (a lot like the Knight Bus), among other things, seem to parallel Rowling's world. Also the running concept of kids attempti ...more
Friends, Akata Witch by Nnnedi Okorafor is such a unique fantasy experience, much different from the quest oriented, Western based fantasy that I normally read. AND I LOVED IT. Sunny, main character, is kind of a weirdo, or rather she’s considered a weirdo in her Nigerian village. You see, she lived in America for the first part of her life then moved to Nigeria, which differentiates her from her classmates. Also she’s white. Not like Caucasian white, but albino white and her hair is kind of blo ...more
This book reminded me a bit about The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John and Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey and had its pros and cons for me.
Pros: It was nice to read a book about magic-users that didn't take place in the US or UK. It seems that so many, almost too many, do when there are so many more magic-users all around the world.
Cons: It started out really well with an interesting premise and building up the world of these four Nigerian teenager magic-users, or Leopard People, very much
So this is your typical kid-didn't-know-they-were-magic, now-has-to-save-the-world deal. It takes place in Nigeria and the magic is juju, so that was interesting, but y'know, it's the same general premise with which we're all familiar.

I liked the protagonist, and some of the magic stuff. There was an awful lot of just explaining, though, the ol' telling instead of showing. That got a little tedious. Is this the first of a series? It seemed like it (though it does stand alone as well, which is ni
Bridget Whalen
"Here, in the new venture, the extraordinary, the magical, the wonderful, and even the strange come out of the ordinary and the familiar." --Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

This quote waits at the beginning of Akata Witch, just after the dedication. It resonates, it's sentiment familiar to anyone who loves the fantasy genre. In many ways I feel that it describes just what fantasy is capable of--making the ordinary extraordinary, if only you look at it through new eyes.

In the very first c
Emily Joyce
I really can't recommend this strongly enough for fans of magical YA. It really is like nothing I've read before, and I can understand Okorafor's reputation for speculative fiction. In a world where it seems all fantasy/sci-fi YA is either a derivative of Harry Potter or Twilight or Hunger Games, Okorafor has crafted a story that is different and fresh, constructing new images and concepts off familiar fantasy archetypes. All those little details of HP that makes the world so convincing and desi ...more
Taryn Pierson
I've said it before and I'll say it again, young adult books aren't just for young adults. Akata Witch is a perfect example of a title that's cataloged in the YA section but has broad appeal.

Sunny Nwazue is a pretty normal girl living in Nigeria. At least she feels pretty normal. There are certain things, though, that make her stick out. First of all, she's albino, and her pale skin and light-colored hair attract attention. Secondly, she was born in America and only recently moved back to her p
Love love love love love. This adorable book had my attention for two days straight and I'm so glad I picked it up.

Let's start with the comparisons-- Harry Potter meets the traditional parts of Things Fall Apart-- they're pretty valid. Like HP, we have a young child, in this case albino Sunny, doesn't fit in, finds out there's magic in them, and is sent on a quest to learn about themselves and defeat a great evil. I feel that for this to truly compare to HP there needed to be AT LEAST another 1
BAYA Librarian
Sunny Nwazue already feels out of place. For one thing, she lives in Nigeria but was born in America, unlike the rest of her classmates and her brothers. In addition, she is an albino and her light complexion causes her to stick out - and be teased by some of her nastier classmates. When three of her new friends reveal a big secret about themselves that includes her, Sunny begins understands how exceptional she really is. She is a Leopard person, which means that she has a natural ability to har ...more
I really wish Goodreads had half stars, because this would be a solid 3.5 if they did. I enjoyed reading this - it's very different in style, pace and content from my usual fare, which was all good. The characters were interesting and different, with believable flaws and unusual skills. There are a LOT of characters in the story, and even though Sunny is the main teller of the tale, it could easily have been confusing to keep track of them all, but Okorafor handles that aspect well. However, my ...more

I loved 96% of this book, the only thing that really bothered me was that at times the author was obviously trying to make a point. Especially concerning the character of Sasha, it seemed like the author had an agenda. Sasha like Sunny was born in America to Nigerian parents. Unlike Sunny, Sahsa has not lived in Nigeria since he was nine and is more sensitive to how Africans treat Black Americans. Sasha moved to Nigeria without his parents as a punishment for using his magical powers irresp
Melissa Proffitt
Twelve-year-old Sunny is a stranger wherever she goes: an American born to Nigerian (Igbo) parents, raised in America but now living in her ancestral homeland, an albino whose fair skin and blond afro hairstyle make her the butt of her schoolmates' vile humor. Almost by accident, she learns that she's also one of the Leopard People, a magical community that spans the globe; that her unique appearance is a blessing rather than a curse; and that she and her friends are destined to prevent a great ...more
Barb Middleton
Sunny is a misfit who 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. C ...more
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Nnedi Okorafor (full name: Nnedimma Nkemdili Okorafor. Also previously known as Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu) is a novelist known for her complex characters and weaving Nigerian cultures and settings into speculative narratives.

In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”.

Her YA novels include AKATA WITCH (an Best Bo
More about Nnedi Okorafor...

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Akata Witch (2 books)
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“There will be danger; some of you may not live to complete your lessons. It's a risk you take. This world is bigger than you and it will go on, regardless.” 5 likes
“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.” 3 likes
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