Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor, 496 pp, RL TEEN
Earlier this year I reviewed a book I had long wanted to read, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. While I wish I had read it right away when it was published in 2011, I am grateful that my wait time to read more about the adventures of Sunny Nwazue in Akata Warrior was (less than) six months and not six years! The world that Okorafor creates is all consuming and the struggles, and challenges that Sunny faces in the world of the Leopard People (those with magic) and the world of the Lambs (those without) is so stunningly crafted that I can see it in my imagination. When I go to look up Nigerian foods, places and people online to give context to what I am reading, Okorafor's writing has already front loaded the vital details.
Akata Witch found Sunny, an albino with feet in two worlds, literally, slowly, painfully, blindly, discovering her powers as a Leopard Person and learning her way in the world of the Leopard People while also fighting a powerful, magical serial killer. With Sugar Cream as her mentor in Akata Warrior, Sunny is learning more, and quickly. She uncovers details about the past of the grandmother who passed on her powers to Sunny as well as much about the life of Sugar Cream, who was abandoned in the jungle as a toddler and raised by (magical) baboons. Sunny also learns that her spirit face, Anyanwu, had a past that included working, along with a tribe of spiders, to stop the Americans from dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Sunny's time in the world of Lambs increases in Akata Warrior when her older brother heads to college nearby and is jumped into a confraternity against his wishes. With the help of Chichi, Sunny frees her brother but brings punishment upon herself. She also finds herself in the curious position of being accused of being a witch by Orlu's non-magic aunt. All this pales when Ekwensu returns and severs Sunny from her spirit face, confirming the apocalyptic vision she saw in the flame of a candle at the start of Akata Witch.
As Sunny, Chichi, Orlu and Sasha fight to restore her spirit face and stop Ekwensu from igniting the many oil spills that are polluting the Niger Delta, the magic and the experiences are intense, but also occasionally humorous and even playful - especially when it comes to Della, Sunny's sculptress wasp who makes art out of Oreos. And, as with Akata Witch, the importance and value placed on educating oneself through books and experience fills the pages.
I hope that Nnedi Okorafor, who is a prolific writer for kids and adults as well as a professor of creative writing and clearly very busy, does not make us wait six more years to spend more time with Sunny!
Source: Review Copy