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Akata Witch (The Nsibidi Scripts Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
Ursula K. Le Guin and John Green are Nnedi Okorafor fans. As soon as you start reading Akata Witch, you will be, too!
From the Publisher
A Nebula Award nominee
"The book puts a unique, inclusive spin on the timeless tale of the misfit chosen to save the world."
“Okorafor’s novels tend to reflect both her West-African heritage and American experiences, but in this series she creates a stunningly original world of African magic that draws on Nigerian folk beliefs and rituals instead of relying on the predictable tropes of Western fantasy novels.”
"There’s more imagination on a page of Nnedi Okorafor’s work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics." —Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning author of A Wizard of Earthsea
“The most imaginative, gripping, enchanting fantasy novels I have ever read!” —Laurie Halse Anderson, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Speak
"I always loved science fiction, but I didn’t feel I was part of it—until I read first Octavia Butler, and now Nnedi Okorafor." —Whoopi Goldberg
"Highly original stuff, episode after amazing episode, full of color, life, and death. Nnedi Okorafor's work is wonderful!" —Diana Wynne Jones, award-winning author of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci
"Jam-packed with mythological wonders." —Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
"Okorafor's imagination is stunning." —The New York Times Book Review
"A marvelous and uplifting read, heartwarming in its portrayal of true friendship, heartbreaking in its portrayal of headstrong youth and the perils of pride." —Cory Doctorow, award-winning author of Little Brother
"Fresh, original, and smart. We need more writers like her." —Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind
"Nnedi Okorafor is opening doors into strange and beautiful new worlds. Her heroes are beguiling, her magic firmly rooted in real places and real things. Rich, mysterious, and convincing, Akata Witch takes fantasy in a haunting new direction." —Jonathan Stroud, New York Times bestselling author of The Bartimaeus Trilogy
"The voice of Nnedi Okorafor does not obey the rules of distance, time, or place. Hers is the voice that fuses matter and imagination. She shows us just how close we are to that alternate reality." —Tchidi Chikere, Nigerian award-winning film director and screenwriter
About the Author
Better known as the goddess Bilquis on the Starz series American Gods, Nigerian-born actress Yetide Badaki has been seen performing all around the world. Her other television credits include ABC's Lost, the Fox show Touch, and Criminal Minds on CBS. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B004IYJEG0
- Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers (April 14, 2011)
- Publication date : April 14, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 2715 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 368 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #45,518 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2019
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Even though I would classify AKATA WITCH as dark academia, I like that it solidly rejects that classist European boarding school structure. Sunny first learns of her abilities when she sees the end of the world in a candle frame. Her friend, Orlu, takes her to his friend, Chichi, who recognizes the magic in her and takes her to their mentor, who helps her unleash her powers and start on her training journey.
Sunny is albino, and there are a lot of superstitions about albinism being magical in Africa, so I thought that was a really interesting choice for the author to make-- especially since we see how Sunny is discriminated against and rejected by her peers for being different and sounding different and looking different, since she has an American accent from being brought up in the U.S. One thing I really liked about this magic system is that innate ability is tied to the physical, usually in some sort of equal or opposite measure. So people who are physically disabled might be able to shapeshift, and people who are blind can have the Sight. This idea of compensating people for their physical "flaws" and making it part of their power was really cool.
The magic system is also really interesting. I liked how their juju knives sort of "choose" them (yes, like Harry Potter). Here, that covenant feels more sacred though, since Sunny bonds with her knife with blood. I like how the magical money works in this world too (chittim). They receive chittim for gaining knowledge-- it literally falls from the sky-- so when they try out a new spell, fix a problem, or even learn something new about themselves, they are rewarded with this magic money that can be used to buy magical goods in magical shops. Like Harry Potter, there is also a magical world and a mundane world. They call themselves "Leopard" people and people without magic are called "Lambs" and the two worlds are supposed to be separate but obviously, there are slip-ups, and there are people in charge who dole out punishments for offenses.
The main source of conflict comes from an evil man named Black Hat Otokoto who is using children for dark magic. Some people will probably compare him to Voldemort but honestly, he reminded me more of Rose the Hat from Doctor Sleep, what with the children sacrifices and the hat and all that. I think he's a really sinister villain and he really adds a real sense of stakes to the book, which is so much darker than any other magical children fantasy book I've read. Messing up a spell can lead to death, and magic can also conjure up spirits and gods, so it's really important not to go beyond one's level or act with malice, especially since magic can turn around and kill the person who performs the spell.
One thing I also really liked is how we are introduced to the world of Leopard people alongside Sunny through excerpts from her guide book, "Fast Facts for Free Agents," and how it's also acknowledged to be an imperfect work that has classist, sexist, and racist undertones. There's a discussion about how knowledge doesn't always lead to wisdom and how motive has to be analyzed when considering a source, which I thought was a really refreshing take from the "read this book and take it at complete face value" dialogues that usually emerge from books of this type.
AKATA WITCH was really fun and really unusual and I loved the Nigerian setting. Sunny, Chichi, Orlu, and Sasha are pretty young teens (13/14) but the book doesn't feel young, and I'm not sure I'd necessarily categorize this book as middle grade because the characters and the concepts feel like they're being targeted at an older audience. It's immersive and epic in scope, and I managed to burn through it in just a couple days because I was having such a good time. I really can't wait to read further into the series. I hope we get to see these characters grow up as they come into themselves.
4.5 out of 5 stars
I love the way the author writes because she not only keeps me entertained she inspires me to want to learn about some of things she writes about. There is "some" truth in everything, to include sci-fi and horror and THAT what makes me want to learn. The mistake I made was not ordering all 3 books in this series at one time. However, I've atoned and just ordered and pre- ordered the last two.
I've read other books from Nnedi before and I've YET to be disappointed! As long a she keeps writing, I'll keep reading.
Fan for Life!
This book had me waiting around for Ashton Kutcher to show up and tell me I was being punked. The plot itself is as old as time: someone with unique abilities is destined to save the world. But the execution was so incredibly haphazard, that was left with millions of questions that the editor should have asked before saying it was good to go.
I've listed some of them here, if you can answer them, please do!!
1. What was the point of having a spirit face if it was such an embarrassment to have someone see it? The book said it makes you stronger and more connected to your special abilities, so why would that make someone feel ashamed? Wouldn't you feel naked without it? Like an archer without his bow? Also, if it's so embarrassing, isn't it like an extreme form of exploitation to have the wrestlers show their spirit faces for entertainment? None if that made sense to me.
2. What was the point of masquerades? They seemed to be a somewhat restricted form of magic where you were able to summon a great being from beyond. Were the ones we encountered in the book just the worst ones or were there good ones too? Like masquerades that would come out of a termite mound and help you study for your math test. Were the summoners supposed to be able to control them? This was never explained in the book.
3. Why doesn't Sunny have any basic survival instincts? In order to become privy to something that she doesn't know anything about, she has to swap blood with one classmate and one stranger. She even mentions the fear of AIDS but does it anyway! Why?? Even if she was beyond curious (and it didn't really read like that in the book), shouldn't she have insisted more on a more health-conscious option? Fine, she does it and I guess doesn't get HIV. Now she has to cross a bridge using a power she just learned or she'll get eaten by a river monster?? Fine she makes it, now go through this dangerous forest where people get killed all the time. She barely survives... sure. Now she's spending afternoons with older men that she doesn't know and her parents don't know where she is. Sunny!! Wake up, girl! These are not smart choices! You are going to get snatched or killed! Not at one point in the book is she thrust into unavoidable danger. They give her a choice, and despite the fact that she doesn't know ANYTHING, she does it anyway. Why?
4. The money! So they keep saying that the only way to get it is by gaining knowledge, but then you can spend it!! Then can't you also get it by providing goods and services like every other monetary society?? So when you give merchants the money does it just disintegrate? And if so, what incentive is there to have a shop? The idea sounds nice, money for knowledge. But without envisioning a new system in which that makes sense, it don't work. Also, in the end, they killed people and got money. Are sunny and the gang now professional assassins? Guess it's good for kids to know all their career options!!!
5. What is the age range supposed to be for this book? One minute I'm reading about two men fighting to the death for sport, the next I'm reading 10 pages about a soccer game. One minute I'm reading about an adorable little bug that turns rubbish into art, and the next I'm reading about kids getting their eyes gouged out by a serial killer. The book has no cohesion in that sense (or any sense).
6. What was the point of Sunny having a foot in both worlds as the author put it? She never uses this skill the whole book. She doesn't even try to use it. They bring it up multiple times, but it has no bearing on the plot at all. And they said there were leopard people all over the world, so I assume some of them are white. They have white skin, does that make them ghost-like and thus connected to the spirit world?
7. Why was it specifically mentioned that the Black Hat was going to mix the poison he was giving to the sacrifices with Fanta? Why?
8. Why was nothing adequately described?? Most of this book was dialogue, and boring dialogue at that. This is a fantasy novel. Many more of it's pages should have been dedicated to describing this new world. Saying someone had "black, black, black" skin is laaaaaazyyyyyy!!!!!!!
9. Why is every single character sassy and hot-tempered? Thay are all so quick to fight either verbally or physically. It was exhausting to read. I wanted them to grow up, learn to work together, trust each other. In the end, they all just did their own thing against the bad guy until they were incapacitated, and then Sunny INEXPLICABLY does some juju that saves everyone.
10. Why were all the adults absolutely worthless? Sunny's parents' only response to her breaking the rules is beating her. She didn't appear to be a disobedient kid before. Why didn't either if them ask her if something was wrong? All the teachers basically tell them to do life-threatening tasks to see if they're worth anything, and if they die, whateves, life be like that and you don't matter. Wow. Except for when we've run out of covens to send to their slaughter against Black Hat. Thanks. And even when they weren't sending them to their deaths, the teachers really didn't have much to offer them except constantly reminding them that life would go on without them.
11. How is it acceptable to just brush off the fact that they NEVER RECEIVED AN EXPLANATION FOR WHY THEY, INSTEAD OF THE EXPERTS, HAD TO FIGHT BLACK HAT???? The freaking kids even asked! How many kids did they send to their deaths?? Why couldn't they have done it??
12. Why weren't their more examples of how magic is used? I felt like I didn't get a strong idea of how magic is a part of leopard culture. How have they used it over the centuries to shape their society? Why aren't there any formal magical schools for new learners? I assume there are more laymen than masters, why is there this weird mentorship program? How is magic used in daily life for people that don't want to be masters? I also wanted more information about how one could move in and out of leopard and lamb society. It seemed rather fluid, but I wanted more information.
13. Why didn't we meet any other magical students? I felt like I couldn't get a good grasp on how these kids were developing as compared to their peers. How did their lives differ? Were Sunny and the gang having a harder or easier time learning? Were any of them prodigies?
14. When Chichi didn't want to reveal her age I was like, well this is a pretty boring thing to make a mystery in this book. And then she and Sasha start dating and it's like, okay. Funs over. How freaking old are? State your age or step away from the minor.
15. I didn't feel like the author did a good job describing Nigerian culture. I felt like I was getting the Wikipedia version of what the country is like. It read like the author had never lived there for long and didn't really emerse herself in the cultures there. I especially felt that she did a poor job depicting African-Americans. Either get into the racial complexity of American culture or don't, but having one of the few African-American characters shout, you have no idea what it's like to be a black man in America and then talk about how he wishes the buffet had fried chicken and collard greens made me feel like she watched Friday, and was like, yeah, I get black people now. I know none of that was a question, but it had to be said.
16. Last thing, at one point, the author calls the actions of the Black Hat, "debauchery." Throwing eggs at a house is debauchery. Switching the salt and the sugar is debauchery. Skipping class is debauchery. Murdering and/or mutilating children is not debauchery.
Anyway, overall, bad book. Poorly written, full of holes, unbelievable and unlikable characters, and no cohesion. The story read to me like the author put a whole bunch if cool ideas into a hat, put them randomly into an empty journal, and then tried to connect them with loose dialogue and transitions. Just because it seems cool, doesn't mean it works!! Sometimes you have to let go of an idea you really like for the sake of the general readability of the novel.
Top reviews from other countries
But in this book I see myself and I dearly wish this had been around when I was growing up. I love Sunny, I recognise the bullying and the insults and how she feels about them. I love the way she enters this world and starts learning about it and the relationships with Sasha, Chichi and Orlu.
I do wish her sun sensitivity hadn’t been removed but I did like the realistic references to the struggle with sun sensitivity for her eyes.
I loved the way the plot developed, with the mundane concerns mixed with the life threatening and found the world fascinating. I’ve seen other readers reference Harry Potter but to me there are only the most superficial similarities which any book with a mundane character entering a magical world has to have. To me this felt very unique, rooted in place and I loved the way the author created a sense of history and culture within the story.