Harry Potter fans, take note: I hope lots of people out there are reading Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. I have been reading kid lit books like crazy for my VCFA MFA writing program, and this is one of my favorites so far. How many books? At least 100 books per year for the past two years. Phew!
When they call Akata Witch the Nigerian Harry Potter, they are right. Except I like it even better than Harry Potter.
Why will the Harry Potter fan Enjoy Akata Witch?
- a fascinating and fully realized magical system
- a brilliantly portrayed magical world for you to escape into
- vivid curmudgeonly mentor characters with great quirks
- tons of action and excitement
- a strong sport-related theme
- fun scary-but-not-too-scary villains
- friendship between strong characters
- middle school characters who learn how to do magic together and have to pass many tests along the way
- a fast and engaging read, therefore, wonderful for reluctant readers
What makes me like Akata Witch better than Harry Potter?
- It’s set in Nigeria, a place I want to learn more about. It’s got the transporting fun of a travel book.
- The magical world of Akata Witch is just as rich as Rowling’s, and it is a fresh magical system, treated with creative, yet cozy whimsy.
- There’s almost a video game feel to some parts of the magic. Bonus!
- The main character has real internal flaws to overcome in order to master her magic, and herself. She has to struggle, which means the stakes are high.
- Akata Witch has humor that arises from character.
- The heroine is bicultural, having grown up in America, and being NIgerian by blood. This gives her yet another difference to overcome.
- The action happens onstage rather than being discussed second-hand, or overheard by spying younglings. Overall, a masterful handling of exposition.
- The protagonist is female. (Being female, I like that. I’m ready at any moment for Rowling to write a whole new set of adventures starring Hermione. She can have more of my cash for that!).
- The protagonist’s albinism gives her an extra dose of difference, and injustice to battle.
- Characters’ mistakes lead to real consequences.
- We need diverse books—boy, do we ever right now, and this is a great one!
Seriously, everyone who loves middle grade and fantasy, no, actually, just everybody who enjoys good stuff needs to check out this book.
The sequel, Akata Warrior comes out October 3, 2017, so happy birthday to me, in advance!
Have you read Akata Witch? What do you think? What other books fit in that Harry Potter sweet spot for you? Please comment below!