by Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Akata Witch #2
Published on October 3, 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.
Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.
Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.
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Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading Akata Witch, the first of this series and hailed as the “Nigerian Harry Potter.” While I definitely saw the similarities, the book stood on its own and continues to expand this beautifully rich world in Akata Warrior.
Much like the first book, I found myself falling into Okorafor’s world more so than her characters. It’s been a year or so since the events of Akata Witch and Sunny is diving into the secret life of a Leopard Person which means a lot of new information for the reader about this unique magic system and some of the beings that inhabit it.
I made the comment before that I didn’t really think of Sunny as being 12 and now that she’s a little over 13, her age matches the themes and content of this book better. If you’re using character ages to determine where this book falls, don’t because while it might be considered MG it reads as a YA with the challenges Sunny faces throughout (both externally and internally).
Akata Warrior, I think, definitely surpassed Akata Witch BUT it’s a different book. Akata Witch focused on discovery. Sunny learned that she is a Leopard Person and what that means both culturally as well as for her life. I’d consider Akata Warrior more of an exploration story. We’ve been introduced to the world, now it’s time to go deeper. Which leads to a bit less action, and it grew dark at times. The pacing is what tripped me up this time. It wasn’t exactly all over the place but these books are unlike any I’ve read and it takses time to adjust for me as a reader. This book felt like it moved slower, not in a bad way, just different.
One thing I’ve loved about both books is that Okorafor beautifully executes the balance between being a teen and a magical Leopard Person. Sunny lives between two worlds and rather than sacrificing one for the other, she is forced to live in both, to manage secrets and hobbies and family and friends all at once. Everyone has different experiences but I could personally relate to that. Having a whole other life essentially (though being a teen book blogger isn’t QUITE as magical as having actual magic) while being in school, participating in band, dealing with family, all of it. That read like the teen experience to me and I don’t see that much anymore. To blend that with such a gorgeously detailed and diverse world puts this book above many others.
In short, you need to read it. Of course, start with book 1, Akata Witch, if you haven’t already and I look forward to seeing where Sunny’s life leads her next!