Akata Warrior (2017) by Nnedi Okorafor is the second book in The Nsibidi Scripts series, which began with Akata Witch, which was the second review in this blog, back in January 2021.
It picks up a year after Sunny Nwazue, a US-born teenager living in Nigeria, first learned of the secret Leopard Society and was inducted into it, and where she saved the world from the masquerade Ekwensu. She is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream, and her parents have relaxed a little about her frequent comings and goings since she has training to do, on top of school.
Her oldest brother, Chukwu, has gone to college a few hours away, and one night she finds him, beaten and bloodied, ready to run away. She persuades him to tell her what happened–he has unfortunately, joined a secret fraternity with severe hazing. Sunny and Chichi decide to teach the fraternity a lesson so they will leave her brother alone, but Sunny breaks one of the cardinal rules of Leopard Society and is thrown in the basement of the Obi Library for several days.
Many adults who’ve been punished to the basement of the Obi Library do not survive, but Sunny uses her wits and strength, even making a friend of a fearsome spider. (She does not like spiders.) She keeps having visions, though, of a world on fire, and they go to the city for New Year’s Eve to ask a magical being to make a flying grasscutter (greater cane rat) to take them to a magical city that exists only in the Wilderness. She has to do this without her Spirit Face, because she seems to have deserted Sunny. Sunny finds out she is one of the few people who can visit the Wilderness and come back to the physical world without having died.
I loved the deepening of the relationship between Sunny and her brother Chukwu, as in the first book her brothers just thought she was their annoying little sister. Now Chukwu has more respect for Sunny, and I think she begins to think of him more as a friend than her big brother. I loved the friend relationships as well, how they relied upon each other to get each other through the difficult trials that they faced. And the thought of a giant rodent that can communicate, fly through the air with multiple teenagers on its back, and become invisible was awesome.
I don’t recall any anti-fat bias, but sometimes I miss it when I listen to a book and don’t read a written version. I love the fact that Sunny–the main character–has albinism and is different from everyone around her, and her mentor Sugar Cream has a disability. I will not wait as long to finish the series, and try her other award-winning series, Binti.