Thursday, June 23, 2011

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny was born in New York, but when she was nine, she and her family moved back to Nigeria.  Sunny loves Nigeria, but she doesn't always fit in well.  Sunny is albino.  She can also see things others can't.  When Sunny is 12, she learns from her friends Orlu and Chichi that she's a Leopard Person, a person with magical abilities, like they are.  Not only does she have magical abilities, but she's also a "free agent," which is very rare indeed.  Sunny must keep her powers secret from her family, even as she learns how to control her magic.  It becomes difficult when the elders send her and her friends on a very dangerous mission.

Harry Potter in Nigeria!  OK, not exactly like Harry Potter, but you kind of can't help noticing the similarities.  Sorry, all other fantasy books with kids discovering they have magical powers.  You will forever be compared to Harry Potter.

The magic, however, was totally different from the world of Harry Potter.  Remember how excited I was when I read The Shattering because it took place in Australia and hurray for a book being somewhere other than the U.S. or U.K.?  Same deal here.  We're in a completely different culture, and the magic fits with the culture and history of the country.  So instead of wands, they have juju knives.  They have spirit faces, that show their true selves, and the good and the evil are all based on Nigerian and African stories and folklore, so that was really cool.

It was also interesting to see how children are treated in different cultures.  Harry and company would have gotten into such trouble in Nigeria.  Children are expected to be seen and not heard.  They are not suppose to question their elders.  When they do something against the rules, they can be beaten.  Very, very different.  I totally understood Sunny's frustration, when she's trying to figure out what on Earth is going on, and no one will tell her anything!  So annoying!  The older people seemed to have very little regard for the children, even when they're asking them to do dangerous things that no one else can do.  You're sending children off to almost certain death, the least you can do is give them a little background.  Damn.

There's a section in the middle when Sunny and friends go to see a Leopard Person wrestling match, and then play soccer that I didn't feel like connected to the rest of the story and slowed things down a lot for me.  Otherwise, moved right along with the magic and danger and kids saving the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...