HomeBest Kids StoriesAkata Witch and Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor | Book Review
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Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor | Book Review

The Children’s Book Review | September 11, 2018

Akata Witch and Akata Warrior

Written by Nnedi Okorafor

Age Range: 14-18

Paperback: 384 pages; 512 pages

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (2011; 2017)

ISBN: 978-0-14-242091-1; 978-0-67-0785612

What to Expect: Supernatural, Magic-Realism, Diversity and Multiculturalism

When we think of fantasy fiction, we normally think of elves and dwarves, grey-bearded wizards, and warriors with big swords.  In other words, the imagery popularized by J. R. R. Tolkein and drawn overwhelmingly from European – and particularly Norse – mythology reigns supreme in the world of fantasy fiction.  That is why books like Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata series are so valuable.  Fresh, original, and inventive, the draw from different mythological sources to provide narratives that are rich in magic and true to life.

Sunny Nwazue was born in America, but now she lives in Nigeria, where the other children hate her for her superior English language skills, her different accent, her difference.  It’s not just Sunny’s background that makes her different, however; Sunny is also an albino.  As if that wasn’t enough, she’s what is known as a “free-agent” or “leopard person”, with magical abilities and a terrifying vision of what the future might hold. Sunny will work with other students like herself to master her abilities, and to combat others who would use their magical abilities for evil.  This is no Harry Potter though: Sunny’s powers cannot change the difficulties of real life, and powerful or not, she still has to learn to cope with a father who fears and despises her, peers who bully and torment her for daring to look and sound different, and the realities of a multicultural existence.  Sunny must save the world, but along the way she must also learn how to be who she is, and what she is.

The most enjoyable aspect of this series by far is the setting in modern Nigeria, depicted from an insider’s point of view in a way that is both unfamiliar and yet intimately detailed.  It is a world that is both harsh and magical, and in that sense brings fantasy into the modern world, and makes it real for readers today.  By placing magic within the context of modern, global issues such as diversity, multiculturalism, and poverty, Okorafor has created a series that is not only a grippingly good read, but also a valuable social commentary.  Put these on your reading list!

Akata Witch Available Here: 

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Akata Warrior Available Here: 

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About the Author

Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She has been the winner of many awards for her short stories and young adult books, and won a World Fantasy Award for Who Fears Death. Nnedi’s books are inspired by her Nigerian heritage and her many trips to Africa. She lives in Chicago with her daughter Anyaugo and family.

Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, written by Nnedi Okorafor, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Akata Witch and Akata Warrior by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with , and .

Jen Harrison currently teaches English Composition and Composition Skills at East Stroudsburg University. She completed her PhD in Children's and Victorian Literature at Aberystwyth University in Wales, in the UK. There she also acted as an instructor teaching undergraduate courses on literature and literary theory, as well as further education courses on Children's Literature and Creative Writing. After a brief spell in administration, Jen then trained as a secondary school English teacher, and worked for several years teaching Secondary School English, working independently as a private tutor of English, and working in nursery and primary schools as a substitute teacher. After moving from the UK to the USA in 2016, Jen is very happy to have returned to higher education. Her current research focuses on three primary areas in the field of children’s literature: reader-writer relationships, thing-theory, and the supernatural; she is a reviewer for the International Research Society for the Study of Children’s Literature (IRSCL), as well as the Children's Book Review. Jen also writes an academic blog on Children's Literature, Worrisome Words: http://quantum.esu.edu/faculty/jharrison/. You can also find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.harrison.73594

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