Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Akata Witch, #1
Reading Akata Witch directly after Alanna makes it difficult not to compare the two of them. It doesn't help that pretty much everywhere Alanna failed, Akata Witch succeeded. Like I said... there's a many much better books marketed to young women these days. Akata Witch is one of them.
This book is the story of an albino American-born Nigerian girl whose parents have moved back to Nigeria. Needless to say, she doesn't feel like she fits in. Then she finds out she's magic and we're off to the races to learn about the magical world and defeat the BigBad.
So, one of the things I really like about Akata Witch is that we have a strong female protagonist who doesn't have to try and be "like the boys" in order to be strong. Granted, there's some stuff about playing soccer/football, but that's window dressing. She doesn't need that bit to be awesome. (Guess what book I recently read where the only way we can really tell a character is strong is if she does boy stuff?)
And while Sunny is albino, a lantern is repeatedly hung on the fact that this is not what causes her to be magic (although there is some slight interaction with her magic, but everyone has an interaction like this in some way) and doesn't really make her super speshul. (Unlike violet eyes, cough cough.)
I also really appreciate that more and more English YA books, specifically YA fantasy, are being written not in the Western tradition of magic. In the book, they make it clear that there are magical people all around the world, but the book is set in Nigeria and so well, we're dealing with Nigerian magic people (Leopard People) who (surprise!) don't ascribe to what most Westerners think about when they think about Fantasy Magic.
There's also no huge emphasis on romance in Akata Witch, although I wouldn't be surprised if it comes up in the later books. However, I was very happy not to have a big romance flowering subplot this time around. We've got the pretty standard "trouble with parents" YA trope, but I felt like it was done realistically, and not for the sake of throwing it in.
tl;dr: this book made me really happy and I wish more YA novels were like it. I am really looking forward to Breaking Kola.