Sarah Marie's Reviews > Akata Witch
bookshelves: arc, first-to-read, fantasy, favorites, great-heroine, i-would-buy-a-copy-because-i-need-t, magic, mind-blown-from-the-awesomeness, pretty-covers, romance, special-abilities, young-adult, witches, middle-grade
First in the Akata Witch series
"Lies are a thing of the physical world. They can't exist in the spirit world."
Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born in America. She is both Nigerian and American. An outsider who belongs. Sunny is different from her family in more ways than one. She’s albino, but she has also seen the end of the world in the flame of a candle. She’s a free agent— a Leopard Person who is not from a family of Leopard People. She has no knowledge of the magic that flows within her or the spirit world that is both her friend and enemy. There’s a serial killer pillaging the streets and killing kids and it’s up to her and three new friends to stop him. This is unique. When I requested this novel, I hadn’t realized that Nnedi Okorafor was the author of Binti, a hugely popular scifi that has been sweeping the book world by storm. This is my first time reading Okorafor’s work and it will not be my last. The writing is beautiful and the storytelling is rich. Okorafor merges the world of Nigeria with the hidden world of Leopard Knocks seamlessly. The imagery is stunning and one of my favorite things about Akata Witch was the excerpts from the book about Free Agents. We learned about Leopard People as Sunny does and it puts the reader on equal footing with Sunny. It makes the story more intimate because the reader develops relationships and knowledge as the main protagonist does. It’s a wonderful, well-developed story full of magic, mischief, and innocence.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75
The main female character is Sunny. Sunny is a very young protagonist; she’s only twelve-years-old. She doesn’t know much about the world and her thoughts can feel a little silly, but it’s important to keep in mind that Sunny is experiencing a world that is unfamiliar to her. This is a world that children know about since birth if they are born into it and this world is also brutal. There’s a scene towards the end where Sunny and her friends attend a wrestling match that results in someone dying. It’s very brutal for a child to see this, but her teacher was teaching them a valuable lesson— a lesson that becomes important to their task of defeating Black Hat. I really enjoyed Sunny as a character and I guess I have developed a maternal affection for her. I want to see her succeed in learning about and navigating this new world, but I also want her to be safe. If this series follows Sunny throughout her teen years, I know she’ll grow into a badass woman.
Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.5
The other characters in Sunny’s friend group are integral to this story. Without her friends, Sunny wouldn’t know of her true self or be able to embrace who she really is. There’s ChiChi, Orlo, and Sasha. ChiChi is a wonderful character with a lot of spunk and heavy doses of snark. She’s fierce, but reckless. She’s very bright for her age (whatever that age may be), but she’s also too cocky. It puts her and others at danger, but this characterization makes ChiChi authentic and feel real. Orlo is Sunny’s classmate at the Lamb school (Lambs are outsiders who are not Leopard People, non-magic folk) and he comes to her aid after several fights. He has the unique talent of mending things that are undone and he’s reserved. Orlo calculates situations and doesn’t make rash decisions without thinking about them. He adheres to the rules of the Leopard People and doesn’t believe they should be pushed or broken. Sasha is from the United States and is outsider in Nigeria, but a Leopard Person through and through. He has a lot of power for being young, but he is reckless and has a vendetta against authority figures. He doesn’t respect those with power and believes that rules are meant to broken. He’s definitely rebellious, but he isn’t a bad person. He just makes a lot of foolish and bad decisions, but most young kids do. Together the four children have a strong bond and they are definite friendship goals. Anatov is their mentor and teacher. He’s wise and does a lot questionable things, but the lessons always outweigh the risks. Messing with juju is dangerous and it can lead to death; Anatov doesn’t let the kids forget it and leads them to many missions that can harm them. I also really enjoyed the balancing of Sunny’s family life with her new life. Her relationship with her mother, especially towards the end, takes a new shift and brought a smile upon my face.
Character Scale: 5
The Villain- Black Hat is a serial killer who targets children. He takes limbs and seems to be practicing some type of ritual sacrifice. It is revealed later on that he has a role in the Leopard Knocks society and an even bigger part to the end of the world that Sunny has seen.
Villain Scale: 4
My only problem, and it’s a bit of a big one, is the ending. The ending felt rushed and the big battle showdown wasn’t as climactic as the novel kept building it up to be. It felt a little too convenient and everything just worked out so well. That’s why I can’t give this novel a full 5 stars, but I’m really excited about the sequel to Akata Witch and I know that this will be a series I don’t want to miss.
Plotastic Scale: 4.5
Cover Thoughts: This cover is fierce. It’s intense and I really like it. Although I must admit I love and prefer the hardcover because it captures Sunny’s innocence. This girl on the cover isn’t Sunny until the end of the novel. It feels a little too mature, but it’s still a well-done cover.
Thank you, First to Read and Speak, for chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.