I chose to read Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor for the 2019 ATY Reading Challenge prompt #20, a book featuring indigenous people. This book first came to my attention through a Goodreads group that focuses on science fiction and fantasy.
I was drawn in by the description:
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 the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
Though the main character identifies herself as American, the story takes place in Nigeria. Sunny’s friends are indigenous people, except for one. The indigenous culture is a significant part of the magic and the plot of the story. The magic in Akata Witch is fun and interesting, probably my favorite part of the story.
I have to admit, I was really excited to read this book, but I feel a little bit let down. The description set up a major conflict – four twelve-year-olds against a career criminal? The bulk of the book, however is more like an African Hogwarts. It’s magic school. Don’t get me wrong, I like magic school. And this one has a unique African flavor. But I wasn’t prepared for a Harry Potter-like adventure. The major conflict promised in the blurb almost feels like an accidental afterthought.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book, but it left me wishing for more. I will likely try the next book in the series at some point.