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Akata Witch Hardcover – 14 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Childrens Books (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670011967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011964
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 511,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Read Nnedi Okorafor's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.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. 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?

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By midian on 28 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i am a great fan of @nnedi's work. i think this is a very accomplished piece of writing, suitable for adults even if aimed at juveniles. great to see african scifi going mainstream.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 29 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My only critique is that it ended. If you felt Harry Potter was perhaps too childish or flawed in parts then like me you'll find this book is every bit as good but with none of the failings. I've read all of Nnedi's books and this is IMO the best of them but she's gets better with every book so who knows what's next.
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By Obi N on 10 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
perfect. will use again
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 50 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Sequel please???? 6 Jun. 2011
By OutlawPoet - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though she spent most of her life in America, 12-year-old Sunny is the daughter of Nigerian Immigrants. When the family moves back to Nigeria, Sunny is immediately singled out as different, both from her American upbringing and the fact that she is an albino. She faces mercilessly bullying until one day, with the help of new friends, Sunny realizes that she is different in a very special way. Sunny is one of the Leopard People, a secretive group of people with the powers of sorcery. As Sunny and her friends perfect their magical skills, they are asked to take on a job that can cost them their very lives...


When I sat down to read this book, I wasn't sure that I would like it. You see, I like my books for pure entertainment value. I want to be carried away to another world. Between the cover art, the title, and the Nigerian setting, I wasn't sure that this was that kind of book.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. This is an extremely pleasurable read. It's entertaining, yet it gave me fantastic insight into Nigerian culture. Mix that with a very plucky and likeable heroine and some magic that puts Harry Potter to shame, this book is a winner.

I really hope that more people take the time to at least download the sample. Within a few pages, I'm sure you'll want to read more.

What do I want? A sequel to this book and a movie version!
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Definitely Lives Up to the Hype 19 April 2011
By Alex - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Over the past couple of months I kept seeing reviews for Akata Witch, everywhere from Ms. and Bust Magazine to Locus and Publishers Weekly. I finally read it, and I can't recommend it enough. Classic coming-of-age template, but a truly unique story and a carefully fleshed-out world. Fast-paced and well-written, I hope that Akata Witch is just the first book of a series--I want more of these characters. Can't wait to read Shadow Speaker et al.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
To Thine Ownself Be True 28 July 2011
By Beverly Jackson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, 12 year-old Sunny is trying to find her fit in the world based on who she is as a person, but is challenged by how others see her. After being born in America, and living her first years there, Sunny is currently living in Nigeria with her parents and brothers, as her parents decided to return to their homeland. She is constantly bullied at school because she is an "akata," a derogatory term for an American of African descent, and an albino. If that was not enough, Sunny is now also haunted by what she saw while staring at the flame of a candle - the end of the world. Not wanting to add to her troubles, she keeps this to herself until befriended by Orlu and Chichi, and is drawn into a magical world she never knew existed, the Leopold People. It turns out that Sunny is a "free agent," a person born with magical powers despite no magical parents. Now she is one of the Leopold people and revels in this community of like-kind people, and amazing things begin to happen to her. All is going well until Sunny and her friends have been assigned to stop a serial killer, Black Hat, who has been murdering children.

I was intrigued by the mystery, the magical ambience, and the vivid setting in Akata Witch. The fantasy setting takes place in Nigeria providing a fresh feel to a coming-of-age story in the overcrowded fantasy genre. The charm is the author makes the reader comfortable and familiar with both the real and magical worlds outlined in the story. One technique used to make us feel familiar is at the beginning of each chapter, there is an excerpt from the "Fast Facts for Free Agents" book Sunny is using for her training, allowing the reader to learn about the Leopold People and their basic philosophy. I was fascinated to read about the African spiritual approach and tales. For fans of Okorafor's prior work, she once again uses her trademark spiritual wilderness concept as evidenced by the luscious descriptions of the magical environments. The familiar aspect is that while learning the mythology, current events, and culture of Nigeria, Okforafor uses the timeless themes for adolescents; issues with parents and friends, group identification, wondering if the cute boy likes you, and the Nigeria we see is not one of violence and poverty, but one where parents work, kids go to school, use cell phones and the Internet.

Sunny is a strong heroine, and it was wonderful to watch her grow into herself. The secondary characters are equally as strong, and provide the impetus to move along the story. The quirks of each of the characters are subtly drawn yet realistic enough and understandable to young adults.

The pacing at the beginning was a little slow, but picked up quickly and flowed well until the end which was a little too abrupt for me. This book is a good foundation for a series, and I am hoping we will have more adventures with Sunny and her friends as they progress through their training levels.

I recommend Akata Witch to young adult readers of fantasy who are looking for new imaginative territory.

Reviewed by Beverly
APOOO Literary Book Review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Unique Middle Grade Read 8 Feb. 2015
By Bruna - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Akata is a very mean word used to describe someone who is African, but was born in America. Sunny is called that, and that’s not the only aspect of her life in which she finds herself in between two different worlds. She is African, but albino. She likes playing sports, but she can’t be in the sun for too long. And the biggest one of all: Sunny discovers that she is a free-agent, a type of witch that doesn’t have magical parents, and she now has to live a double life between the Lamb (non—magical people) and the Leopard (people who possess magic) world.

Here’s what I thought, positives and negatives:

Good Things:

It’s a very different magical universe and it challenges the Euro-based fantasy rules that we usually have on our minds. I feel it is a very important story because of that. I also liked how everyone’s flaws and disabilities were actually keys to their magical talents.

I like Sunny’s character; she is strong, she suffers a lot because of the people in her school and even her dad but in the end, it doesn’t bring down her confidence. She knows she has a place in life and she fights for it.

It was interesting to learn a little bit about African culture and everyday life, which is not something I see a lot in fiction.

It was fast and fun to read. It reads quickly and there’s not a lot of dwelling on unimportant things, it gets to the point. This is both a positive and a negative (see below).

Not So Good Things:

I wished she had taken more time with the world development and had let it come through the plot more. I feel like there wasn’t a clear plot structure; the main bad guy is only a far away threat throughout most of the book and some parts of the story I felt like there wasn’t really a point to them except to show how a certain magical thing worked. It wasn’t info dumping or anything, but I think the teaching of the magical universe should have come through naturally as the plot progressed. It just felt a little forced for me.

The writing style was too simplistic. I don’t really know how to elaborate on that, but again, I would say that’s because it’s middle grade and it usually tends to be more direct than books for an older audience. I know that when I was a kid, I preferred books like this, more direct.

Most characters felt one-dimensional and I could really care about them or connect with the story on an emotional level. Since it’s a middle grade novel, and part of a series, this isn’t a huge problem: most middle grades tend to have one dimensional characters and not too intense things happening with them.

I found too many Harry Potter parallels. I swear I wasn’t looking for them and I don’t want to get into it, because other people might not see it that way. That didn’t keep me from enjoying the story, necessarily, but I just thought I’d point that out.

To Sum Up:

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story and I’m glad I read it, but I had trouble visualizing the world and connecting emotionally with the characters. Maybe because it was middle grade, but it didn’t have a lot of character exploration; they felt one dimensional and little more than names on a page for me, except maybe Sunny, the main character. There wasn’t a lot of description either, which I think made it harder to visualize the magic that I know this world was filled with. I know this is the kind of book ten-year-old me would have loved to read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fun read - will probably appeal to Harry Potter fans 14 May 2011
By branewurms - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a lot of fun. I felt the plot was a little meandering and the climax was kind of abrupt, but overall it was a solidly constructed and entertaining story. I keep hearing this referred to as a "Nigerian Harry Potter." I'm not so sure about that - it's much more inventive than Harry Potter, in my opinion - but I do think it would probably appeal to Harry Potter fans, since it shares a lot of basic themes in common. Highly recommended in general, and it'd probably be a great choice if you're trying to introduce a kid (or an adult) to good YA fantasy lit outside the usual whitewashed fantasy settings.

One thing that struck me as kind of odd was that the writing style and overall tone felt more like a children's book, while the occasionally mature/dark subject matter and smattering of profanity made it obvious that it was aimed at the YA market. This isn't a complaint - I didn't think it was a bad thing at all - it just struck me as unusual enough to note.

Kudos to Jillian Tamaki for the absolutely gorgeous cover art.
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