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?
Description taken from Goodreads
The plot follows a familiar structure, which makes some elements a little predictable. While there is a lurking threat in the serial child murderer, Black Hat Otokoto, the spotlight is on Sunny learning how to be a Leopard person. Part of this learning is a book called Fast Facts for Free Agents, a text written with an obvious bias against the free agents (leopard people with no known leopard ancestry) it’s written for. Another element is chittim, currency that literally rains down when a Leopard person learns something new. I liked this, and the way Okorafor incorporates this mystical currency into a thematic denouncement of greed. Okorafor doesn’t shy away from social criticism either and the narrative often touches on issues surrounding sexism and bigotry in general.
The magic system is distinctly African, and unlike anything you’ll find in Western literature. I got happy thrills when I saw magic being called juju and the masquerades work brilliantly as magical beings. The spirit faces are also a nice touch. I loved the idea that distinct physical traits and abnormalities often denote great magical ability, a concept that sees Sunny, who is often mocked for her albinism, viewed with respectful interest by the Leopard community.
I enjoyed Akata Witch, but the ending was a little disappointing. There’s a good build up to the climax, which turns out to be not as climactic as I’d expected. I would’ve liked to see more danger and difficulty involved, a few more pages of juju battle perhaps. Ultimately, the resolution feels like it comes a little too easily. That said, I do think I’ll continue reading this series and I’ll definitely look out for more of Okorafor’s novels.