Hey, hey, hey! Welcome back to the Big Kids Book Club.
It’s Thursday, so it’s time to jump right into another Mid-Week Review!
Today’s book: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 09/066/02/2022
Suggested Age Range: 9+ MG
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, Mystery
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐(out of 5)
Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for June 2022
Black Panther meets Percy Jackson in this action-packed and empowering middle-grade superhero series about a British-Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers.
Onyeka has a lot of hair – the kind that makes strangers stop in the street. She’s always felt insecure about her vibrant curls, until she makes an important discovery: she can control her hair with her mind!
Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari – children with superpowers – are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends at the Academy soon have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies…
When getting stuck into Onyeka, the first real comparison I had for it was with a Middle Grade, African version of X-Men. With the children with mutant like powers, a system to ranks them, and an elite school designed to help them navigate the world with these various abilities and gifts.
Placed into this is the very unique aspect of a protagonist with a power that runs through their hair and you have something that blends both interest and excitement. The initial chapters gives us a build up of Onyeka as a character, but when her powers awaken in a swimming accident, it becomes clear that there’s more than meets the eye and with her mum we’re transported back to Nigeria and a whole conspiracy of these super-humans known as Solari and their influence on the government and society.
Of course, Onyeka, having never been to Nigeria is beset with the culture shock initially, but finds that underneath the strange circumstances she finds herself in, she uncovers a conspiracy that entangles her family, and most directly her father – a wound that’s opened up through her time spent in Nigeria.
The action scenes are really engaging, and characters feel wonderfully diverse and fleshed out in what feels like a series that could really grow wings and become as big as say Percy Jackson, and others like it.
I listened to the Audiobook version of this and it was amazingly narrated by the wonderfully talented Nneka Okoye, who delivered chapter after chapter of engrossing story-telling, and enchanting characterisations.
An immediate additional to all Middle Grade TBR lists!