Caribbean Thoughts

by Carol Mitchell

Review-Akata Witch

Meet twelve year old Sunny, the albino daughter of Nigerian immigrants who have moved back to Nigeria to raise their three children. She is already finding it difficult to fit in, a situation which becomes more complicated when she finds out that she is a part of a group of humans with special juju (black magic) powers and a dubious responsibility to save the world.

I found it difficult to put this book down, I read until my eyes refused to stay open a second longer and in between work while I waited for the kettle to boil or a screen to load on my laptop. Akata Witch is action packed, fast paced, and filled with vividly effective descriptions of a world that merges real images of Nigeria with the fantasy world that the author creates.The author touches on a number of issues along the journey, some in greater detail than others–juju/obeah/black magic (whatever it is called in your neck of the woods); the complexities of the father-daughter relationship; politics especially as it relates to greed and oil in Nigeria; race issues in the US and Nigeria; feminism…many issues that touch the lives of young people today.

The characters are memorable. Although the central protagonist is twelve, other key characters were older and the content should appeal to teens as old as fourteen or fifteen. There is a burgeoning romance and a murder or two.

Sunny spends a lot of the book quite frustrated with the reluctance of those around her to provide information about the world in which she finds herself and I must admit that I shared her pain. When I got to the end of the book I was dissatisfied with the lack of explanations for events that took place. Perhaps that is the nature of the juju. The premise that supported the climax of the book–that four woefully unprepared teens should be mankind’s best hope against the world–seemed a bit weak, but it is a fantasy after all.

I recommend Akata Witch. Perhaps there is a sequel in the works…

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