Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is the first in her YA fantasy series where magic and culture collide. Originally published back in 2011, the novel is being republished to mark the announcement of a long-awaited sequel.
This is such an incredible novel and I consider myself so lucky to have received a free copy of Akata Witch from Penguin Books. Akata Witch takes a cultural standpoint to look at the world through the eyes of being different in a place where the differences isolate her. It follows Sunny who is an albino girl living in Nigeria with her family. Originally from America, Sunny stands out so much because of her skin condition. But her skin condition, her albinism, is exactly what makes her so special.
It is truly unique, for me, to have read a book that follows a character with this condition. It’s remarkable because not only does it make Sunny stand out in the novel, it makes the novel stand out. There is magic in the novel, and not just real magic, but magic that goes deeper, the magic of being unique and different.
This novel capitalizes on differences, on the flaws that everyone has, and how they should be respected. Flaws are not always flaws, they make people unique, they give people their courage and make them who they are. It’s so beautiful how Nnedi Okorafor uses that with Sunny to make the novel stand out. It also allows for character development as Sunny begins to find the strength in herself, in being herself, finding the inner strength within her to stand up and fight for what’s right.
That right there makes the novel remarkable. But that’s not the only thing. The story, while culturally set in Nigeria, the plot, the magic, is culturally diverse. There’s so much that takes place in Nigeria, but it’s not exclusive to Nigerian culture. Okorafor makes this such an accessible novel by letting other cultures trickle in. What’s more, is that they don’t overwhelm the Nigerian culture, they highlight it. The magic is dangerous, but within it, there lies hope. And there is a claim that knowledge is power, that knowledge and learning is what makes a person strong, not wealthy or physically powerful.
Personally, I love that. It’s a teaching moment, the whole novel is a teaching moment with remarkable writing and powerful storytelling. The characters are amazing, they all have their flaws, their gifts, their own unique personalities that all balance each other out so amazingly. The reader doesn’t really see how they all develop and grow, but in slivers through the eyes of Sunny, there is a glimpse of change.
There is magic on every page and a magic for those who are different.
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|Pub Date: April 14, 2011||Page Count: 368pp||Age Range: 12 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-0-6700-1196-4||Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers||List Price: $18.99|