Nicole's Reviews > Akata Witch

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
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Jul 27, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, teens-ra
Read from July 14 to 27, 2011

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 attempting powerful magic before they're ready (but isn't that what most teenagers do, magical or no?). There's even a straight-up acknowledgement of this in a way - characters mention that there are other Leopard people all over the world.

But of course it's all much more exotic to the Western reader, who probably hasn't encountered African juju work and the idea of the masquerade before. And some of the African cultural mores (Sunny's father slaps her around; albinos are seen as 'less-than'), and the nature of the Big Bad (a child-sacrificing serial killer!) make this a bit darker than at least the earlier Potter books.

This ending was a bit rushed, but not as bad as the ending in Okorafor's Who Fears Death. And there were a few things that I thought could've been left out (I'm not sure what the big soccer game was for, except to make a rather heavy-handed feminist statement - there's not even any magic involved!). But overall I really enjoyed this - Sunny is a pretty likeable main character, and there are lots of charming little details throughout. I VERY MUCH look forward to recommending it to kids at the library. There's also a bit of room left over for sequels, so I'm hoping that actually happens.
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message 1: by Max (new) - added it

Max I won't know until I read it, but I may like this for being darker, at least if it strikes me as more true. Potter's muggle family seemed inconsistent in their badness. It sometimes felt as if the abuse Harry was suffering was not really seen as that big a deal. A stone in his shoe from which he eventually got welcome relief. That and the activities which ought to have been extremely hazardous but accepted as an every day thing. Reminded me of how A-team shows and the G.I. Joe cartoons would have endless automatic weapons fire and noone ever even got a real scratch. And in comics people are constantly getting bludgeoned in high-powered fisticuffs and hardly anyone ever gets a concussion. Even as a kid that bothered me.


Nicole Yeah, you might enjoy this one then. Magic is portrayed as dangerous and potentially lethal to practice. Sunny's dad isn't really evil, exactly - he's more part of the bigger subtext that deals w/ cultural misogyny and attitudes toward albinos. Pretty smart; I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.


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