Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor; A Book Review
I had previously read another book by Nnedi Okorafor of which I found the plot to be stressful and eventually could not finish but I didn’t want to write off the author because of one book. Also, I have a bias against fantasy as a book genre and I was looking for a reason to finally either embrace it or give up completely (after a considerable number of attempts I must add), so I set out to read Akata Witch. Colour me excited then, when I picked up this book and was quickly gripped by the beginning chapter.
Reading this book, for me, brought back memories of Harry Potter. The plot especially would resonate deeply with persons like me who enjoyed the Harry Potter series (and perhaps Percy Jackson series). Also, if you are a fan of witchcraft, you are in for a jolly ride.
Akata Witch is the first book in the Nsibidi Scripts Series by Nnedi Okorafor. It is about a teenage albino girl, Sunny who recently moved with her family to Nigeria from the United States. She discovers she possesses unearthly abilities, finds and identifies with a community of fellow gifted individuals. Sunny makes friends with Chichi a precocious girl with a nose for trouble, calm and peaceful Orlu who attends the same school as she does and another teenage boy Sasha, also back from the United States, but as a form of punishment for misusing his magical skill. All these is set in a Nigeria plagued by a kidnapping cult targeted at children. Amateur Sunny and her friends form a coven and are recruited to tackle this menace while experiencing many adventures together. Do they succeed?
I enjoyed how Nnedi Okorafor stretched her creative imagination with this book. She employed the use of everyday Nigerian things to weave our very own fantasy right here in Nigeria. So the story is one that we can reach, feel and relate to. She writes about basic Juju, that we are all familiar with but it has structure, it has depth and it is attractive! It does not conform to the traditional and religious notions that Juju must be altogether bad, where a witch for example, has to be a wicked woman with no husband or children because she ate them all.
In as much as I found the writing simple and easy to follow, it was a painfully slow read for me because, in spite of having a great start, the plot dragged on for so long and by the time we got to the meat of the matter, we were met with an underwhelming ending. There were also some loopholes to the plot that I could not overlook, because they chipped away at the credibility of the story. However, I loved that Nnedi Okorafor touched on themes like family, teamwork, camaraderie and bullying which are relevant to young people, especially teenagers.
Will I be reading something else from the author or from the fantasy genre, in the near future? I am not quite certain.