I’m so pleased to be a part of Penguin Young Readers’ blog tour for Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor!
This second installment in Sunny Nwazue’s story again features her Oha coven Orlu, Sasha, and Chichi, not to mention the various members of Leopard Society and the nefarious Masquerades they must face as they work to keep not only their secretive society—but also the world—safe.
Sunny continues to learn all she can from her mentor, the wise and sometimes irascible Sugar Cream, but of course struggles with listening to the rules along the way. The more powerful Sunny grows, the more she sees opportunities for using her juju and powers to help those around her, including her older brother, Chukwu. But, as she is again reminded many times in this book, “The world is bigger than you,” and so she must also learn to deal with the consequences for using her powers.
Sunny’s main obstacle, though, is learning to truly be who she is. Initiation into the Leopard Society has taught her many things, but one thing it cannot teach her is how to be settled in her own skin and be at peace with who she is. Sunny, upon her initiation, recognizes and understands the presence of her spirit face, Anyanwu. But in this book, where Sunny herself it put so much to the test, she no longer feels as connected to the other side of herself, and has to learn to come into her own without the ever-present comfort—and power—Anyanwu provides her. The loss of her spirit face is “devastating” to her and she experiences “moments of complete and total despair,” and this internal struggle of Sunny’s is what drives her inner conflict. More sinister forces wait for her as she tries to discover, again, who she is without the comfort and added power and protection of Anyanwu.
Sunny processes through this duality of hers—which she likens to the duality of her “cultural halves, American and Nigerian, how she’d always felt like two people in one”—and as a result she learns much more about who she is and where she fits into the world that is so much bigger than she is, and so much bigger than she ever dreamed.
Okorafor’s imagination never ceases to amaze me, nor does her storytelling ability. The layers of story in this installment in Sunny’s adventure were complex and revealed so much about Sunny, her family, and her friends. Sunny’s coming-of-age continues and weaves so perfectly with the brilliantly alive storylines of the people, spirits, and creatures around her—including her wasp artist, Della—and was captivating from page one.
A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.
Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.
Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.