Akata Witch: You Tried

Allysia Rainey, Staff Writer

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Akata Witch is about a Nigerian girl named Sunny Nwazue. As an albino raised in the United States, she tends to stick out like a sore thumb among her fellow Nigerians. One day, she is approached by her classmate Orlu and his lifetime friend, Chichi. They then help her realize that she is a Leopard Person, a magical being who can cast spells and possesses a special ability dependent on his or her flaw, Sunny’s flaw being her albinism. As the book progresses, she discovers more and more about her abilities alongside her friends while a mysterious serial killer spreads fear among their village.

If you’re wondering, this is a spoiler-free review. After all, the book was just so tedious, shallow, and boring that I couldn’t be bothered to finish it.

For starters, the characters were about as exciting as a cinder block (unless you are, for whatever reason, really into cinder blocks). Sunny is a… protagonist. She likes soccer and cooking. I think. Orlu is the smart and mature one. Sasha and Chichi are impulsive, arrogant, flirtatious, and essentially the same person. They all call each other friends, but I would’ve just assumed they were passive aggressive acquaintances if they didn’t constantly scream about the power of teamwork and friendship every five minutes. They don’t mature or develop, things just kind of happen. I never really noticed any sort of progression in their relationships and— whoa! Why are Sasha and Chichi making out all of a sudden? And Orlu is into Sunny now? Aren’t these kids, like, twelve?

Anyway, the plot was practically non-existent until the very end. It was just a long, drawn-out compilation of Sunny learning new things and meeting new people and ultimately accomplishing nothing, which tied into my own experience with the book quite nicely.

Going into Akata Witch, I was actually really excited to read it. Almost every single YA novel takes place in a Western nation, and the number of African fantasy novels is extremely few. It’s always about some distant European land with European magic and European characters. I had hoped that Akata Witch would be a refreshing novel in a sea of Eurocentric monotony. Not only that, I was excited to read a fantasy novel written by an African American writer, as those are often (in my experience) hard to come by. To give the book some credit, I actually did learn a lot about Nigerian magic and culture. It was what grabbed my attention the most and the only thing the author seemed to really care about. Sadly, the book was ultimately a disappointment.