My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: July 11th, 2017
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Culture, Friendship, Secret Society
Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
I was hooked from prologue to epilogue.
Not only is it a refreshing piece of literature that will appeal to fantasy fans and those who are looking for more culture + magic in their reads, it is so much more surprising, structured and well written than Binti from the same author, so definitely do not let that one influence whether you give this a chance or not.
Sunny is albino, which is just her luck since she wishes she could play soccer. But when Sunny is introduced to a secret society of ‘‘juju’’ users, she realizes there might be a reason why she looks so different from her peers—she possess powers that need developing.
I simply adore the world-building.
Unlike the summary lets on, Sunny and her new friends spend quite a small amount of time tracking the serial killer, seeing that as Leopard People, they are juggling two schools and they each must learn to understand their abilities and put them to good use, especially the new member—Sunny.
There is a beautiful sense of community when it comes to the Leopard People.
It is original, because the author relies mainly on culture + magic to tell this tale. Without these two elements, there would be no story, and when beliefs are introduced, I, for one, pay great attention. Since this is fiction, the author does take liberties with the culture and the idea of ”juju” or black magic, but Nnedi Okorafor sure has kindled in me a newfound interest in Africa.
I’ve seen many label this a ‘‘young adult’’ book and perhaps they are right to do so, but I want to warn you that Sunny is twelve and the story has a juvenile vibe, although the tone is more serious than is the case with the majority of middle grade stories.
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