2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 6 books toward her goal of 240 books.

Book Reviews: Akata Witch and Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Merciful heavens but if you have not yet experienced the magic that is the world of Sunny Nwazue, you simply must…

Today I’m delighted to bring you my thoughts on the two books currently available in the series – Akata Witch and Akata Warrior. They are phenomenal – full of magic and symbolism and inspiration and fear and wonder in an absolutely spot-on storytelling style that resonates and won’t let you put the books down until you have finished them. And even then, you’ll want to grab them back up again to reread, because there are so many layers in these stories overlapping and tickling each others’ edges… It’s a brilliant series and I can only hope that there is more to come.

I stumbled upon it because of one of my favorite bloggers – The Bloggess – who said Akata Witch was one of her go-to books. She mentioned it in an interview; her link to that interview is in one of her posts. I’m giving you her link, rather than just the book list, because she’s funny and fabulous and worth the read, so I wanted you to look at her not just the interview with the list. The interview is worth a read too; it has other great suggestions in it also and is definitely worth a look.

Akata Witch
From the opening pages, I was LOVING this one… I’ve seen it described as a Nigerian Harry Potter. Usually when people call something another HP (or any other well-loved character/book), it’s a huge disappointment because it’s merely a spin-off or rip-off of the original idea. Not so here AT ALL. This is a wholly original story, but I can see where someone would make the comparison – it’s another misfit-turns-out-to-be-more-than-she-appears story, with a gloriously imagined other world. The writing is absolutely incredible. I flew through it – both times I read it. Okorafor’s style is conversational and easy-going but not at all simplistic – there is a fabulous underpinning of mythology, and it’s pretty much entirely new to me since I haven’t read a lot of West African literature/history. I blew through 150 pages in an hour – I could not set the book down because every page led me to something new that I had to see through. There’s some strong juju here indeed, o!

The story is a coming of age tale, but so much more. There are secrets and magical worlds and creatures (some of whom are even human) galore, and the journey that Sunny and her friends embark on is so well-plotted and perfectly developed that you find yourself completely immersed in their travels (and travails).

Akata Warrior
Okorafor manages to bring Nigerian traditions and mythology into a seamless meld with contemporary fantasy and coming-of-age themes and to manage to imbue it all with a timeless storytelling magic that brings the words and images to life in a Gaiman-esque(yet TOTALLY unique, indelibly Okoraforian) way that few authors can… This second-in-series is every bit as amazing as the first and definitely will not disappoint. The stories are brilliant, the characters come alive, and the plots are delicate and woven with tidbits of lore and secrecy that leave you questioning the nature of reality and dreams and the things you see out of the corner of your eye. It’s an incredibly heady combination, and not one to be missed…

Sunny and her friends are incredibly well-written characters who jump off the page and infest your imagination. The folklore is mostly new to me and I’m thoroughly enjoying the immersion it provides, as well as the depth and breadth it brings to the larger coming-of-age story. Okorafor is a genius with words – she actually teaches English at the college my step-daughter attends and I am trying to find out if I can audit (or simply sneak into!) a class, because I cannot even imagine how incredible it must be to listen to her describe reading and writing… If you haven’t found your way into one of her worlds yet, you simply must make the trip – you will NOT be disappointed.

My blurbs don’t even remotely do these books justice – the writing is simply that incredible. You’ll just have to trust me and pick them up!

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