Akata Witch Nnedi Okorafor
Sunny's parents are Nigerian, but she was born in the US and then they moved back to Nigeria when she was 9*. She's also an albino. Her classmates stare. Her father hates her.
She saw the end of the world in a candle flame.
And that's when she learns that she's a Leopard person. Leopard people work juju and have powers. They had their Leopadness from the Lambs (aka Muggles.)
And like that, Sunny enters a double life-- dutiful daughter, diligent student by day, Leopard person out to save the world by night.
Because there's a serial killer on the loose and he's been murdering children. The council knows it's a Leopard person and knows that Sunny and her friends have been chosen to deal with it...
First off, hey! It's a fantasy set in Nigeria! And the magic and magical world are ones with what I assume are Nigerian characteristics (I don't really know much about Nigeria, so I can't say for sure.)
Second of all, Sunny is awesome. She's smart and clever and nice without being too nice. She has some innate abilities and strengths but she also has to learn how to use them. She isn't instantly the bestest Leopard person ever. I think the supporting characters, especially her friend Chichi and Orlu are also really well drawn.
I like how Okorafor plays with Sunny's outsider status. In the Leopard world, she's a free agent, or one who isn't born in Leopard parents. She wasn't raised in the culture or the knowledge, which puts her at a disadvantage. In the Lamb world, she's between cultures. Her classmates call her akata which is a not-nice word for an African-American. The tensions here are played with even more when Sasha arrives from the States. Her skin color also sets her apart from her peers and family. Her in-between status makes her an excellent tour guide both to the Leopard world but also Nigeria.
There's so much going on here that I really hope this is a series. It stands alone, but the world is so complex and I want to spend more time in it. There's also a lot going on with Sunny's family's backstory that I'd love to explore further.
OH! And I liked that there was some super super light romance but NO instalove and NO love triangles and it was a really minor subplot that didn't hijack the story.
Overall a really excellent book. I che4cked it out when we got it in last spring, but didn't get a chance to read it before I had to turn in all my library books before going on maternity leave. Luckily, it stayed on my radar so I checked it out again and had a chance to read it this time. So glad I did.
*Usually. My one complaint with the book is that sometimes this shifted. Like, she moved back when she was 9, but at one point says she and Orlu have been going to school together since they were 5. I kinda got the sense that when she moved back changed in revisions but not all references to it were caught.
Book Provided by... my local library
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Akata Witch Nnedi Okorafor