Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor. Viking, 2017.
At last, a long-awaited sequel to Akata Witch, complete with new covers for both books. It’s been just a year in book time since Sunny Nwazue and her three juju-learning Leopard team mates defeated the evil Black Hat. (Leopard and Lamb here being the Nigerian equivalent of wizard and muggle.) Now, all of them are furthering their studies. Sunny is working hard to decode the magical picture language of Nsibisi, while trying to cover up her exhaustion from midnight magic classes after a full day of regular classes (no magical boarding school for these students.) Sunny’s friendship with Orlu is slowly deepening into something more, while Chichi and Sasha have a relationship that’s both openly romantic and openly fighting. When Sunny’s big brother goes off to college with a great deal of fanfare, it turns into something much more sinister, something his little sister will have to rescue him from… The action ratchets up throughout the book, and Sunny will have to know herself better than she ever has before to have any hope of succeeding.
“Juju cartwheels between these pages like dust in a sandstorm”
is a quote about the book Sunny is learning from that’s equally applicable to the book itself. Okorafor has a knack of putting simple words together into a story that feels utterly matter-of-fact and utterly magical at the same time. I don’t know how she does it. I bought the new paperback of Akata Witch for my son to read, partly because he is addicted to epic fantasy, partly because he was doing a summer reading challenge trying to read a book set on this continent and middle grade fantasy set in Africa is pretty sparse on the ground here. But I wanted him to read this even without that, because all magical kids here have their powers through something that’s viewed negatively by the outside world – Sunny being albino, and one of the boys through being dyslexic, like my son. (It is ironic, given that, that the books aren’t available on audio, which would have made it much easier for him to read!) The books are perfect for middle school and up, with a fair amount of violence and minimal romance. Don’t miss Nnedi Okorafor’s other books, including Zahrah the Windseeker , Binti, and Binti: Home.