|Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor|
Okay, I'll confess something to you all. I initially only picked up this book to read because it was one of the last books to be read and reviewed by Diana Wynne Jones, a very talented author who passed away a couple months ago. If you're familiar with Howl's Moving Castle, she wrote that and the sequel Castle in the Air. She also wrote The Enchanted Glass (which is a lot of fun and available in the library).
Oops, off topic- back to Akata Witch...
...anyway so I bought this book for the library because Diana Wynne Jones (have I mentioned how amazing she is?) wrote an excellent review about how awesome it was and how everyone should read it.
It seems like a lot of magic and fantasy books these days take off in the vein of Harry Potter. And I love those books but sometimes you don't realize the sameness of them all until you find something new and special. Akata Witch takes place in Africa, Nigeria to be specific, and the magic is so different and real that you find yourself completely sucked in and believing.
Sunny is twelve years old, she moved to Nigeria from America five years before. Her parents are Nigerian but she was born in New York City and finds herself caught between two worlds, is she Nigerian or American? She also has to deal with the fact that she is an albino which gives her pale skin that burns instantly, (an unfortunate circumstance if you live in Africa!) and coarse yellow hair. She's considered an outcast from her schoolmates until one day she gets in fight, makes a couple enemies but also a couple new friends. And that's only the beginning, pretty soon she discovers that she is one of the 'Leopard People', a free agent with strong magic abilities that she must learn to harness because there is a killer on the loose who is stealing young children.
The magic is incredibly complex and exciting and steeped in African mythology. There may not be wands but there is something just as good (I won't give it away but it's pretty cool and makes a lot more sense then a wand...)
This book is special, anyone interested in magic or sorcery or Nigerian culture should definitely check it out. And even if you're not interested in those things, it's a great book about people thrown together who are completely different but learn to be the best of friends. And if you're not interested in that, well it's an intense story with some nail-biting life or death action.