Genres: Young Adult
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are 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. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a "free agent," with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
Sunny is an American-born Nigeria girl who has been living in Nigeria for three years. She isn’t accepted in school and is referred to as “akata” — a derogatory term for someone who is an American black person or any foreign black person who doesn’t fit in. One night she is staring into a flame and sees a vision of the end of the world. That’s her first clue that things are about to get weird.
Orlu is the only classmate of Sunny’s who seems to tolerate her. He starts walking home with her and that brings her to the attention of his other friend Chichi. She doesn’t go to school. She lives with her mother in a small run down house filled with hundreds of books.
Chichi and Orlu are Leopard People — magic users. Most of them come from families of Leopard People but they suspect that Sunny has power so they decide to test her to find out. When she passes the test they take her to their teacher and all meet Sasha. He’s an American who is in trouble for torturing a classmate with magic. He’s been sent to Nigeria for punishment and hopefully some retraining.
The four children are grouped together to learn about their skills. They find out that the ultimate goal of their training is for them to be able to work together to defeat a magical serial killer.
There is so much that I love about this book.
There is a wasp who makes sculptures out of chewed up paper. If you don’t praise her enough for her creations she will sting you until she dies in a fit of artistic pique.
Everyone has a true face that is private and you need to be able to access it in order to reach the Leopard People’s village.
One of the most powerful people is the librarian because she holds all the knowledge.
The funky train is a magically powered bus driven by a man called Jesus’ General and covered in Christian signs that may or may not change to Islamic signs depending on where it is going.
Chittim is magical money. Any time you learn a new skill or gain knowledge it falls from the sky at your feet. I want this to happen.
I don’t know that the overall plot with the serial killer made a lot of sense. It seemed like it wasn’t really necessary because so much was going on with just watching Sunny navigate her new world. After not being thrilled with Okorafor’s recent The Book of Phoenix, I’m glad this one was a delight to read though.