Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking, 2011)

Summary from publisher:
Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City.  She looks West African, but she's an albino.  She's a terrific athlete, but she is so sensitive to the sun that she can't play soccer during the day.  She doesn't seem to fit in anywhere.
Then she learns why.
Her classmate Orlu and his friend Chichi reveal that they have magical abilities -- and so does she.  Sunny is a "free agent," overflowing with latent power.  And she has a lot of catching up to do.
Soon, Sunny is taking a crash course in magical history,  spells, juju, shapechanging, and dimensional travel.  Her new world is a secret from her family, but it's well worth all of the exhaustion and sneaking around.
But... there is a dark side.  Just as she's finding her footing, Sunny, with Orlu, Chichi, and their American friend Sasha, is asked by the magical authorities to help track down a criminal.  Not just a run-of-the-mill bad guy.  A real-life, hard-core serial killer -- with abilities far stronger than theirs.

Overall, this was a good story.  I was intrigued by this girl, who seemingly doesn't fit in her world.  Being an albino African certainly makes her stand out, as does her personality.  I enjoyed reading about her magical education, and there is certainly a good deal of mystery built in along the way.

That being said, I did feel the story got bogged down in parts.  Too many details slowed down the story, and I also had a hard time figuring out all of the African magic references.

Certain kids will enjoy this book, but I don't think it will have a broad appeal among my students.  Good readers who can plow through slow spots and who also enjoy magic and fantasy are the perfect audience for Akata Witch.

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