Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Published: August 18, 2020
Reviewed By: Cristina
Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?
An Ikenga is a symbolic cultural artifact from the Igbo people of Nigeria. What if it could grant special powers? That is where Nnedi Okorafor’s story begins. Set in modern day Nigeria, an eleven year old boy named Nnamdi is grieving the death of his father. Not just the death. The unsolved murder of his police chief father. On the one year anniversary of his father’s death, Nnamdi receives an Ikenga that gives his the ability to transform into a strong man, capable of stopping the criminals that have begun to take over his town under a new corrupt police chief. One problem. His powers are uncontrollable. And he feels like his one of his favorite super heroes–The Hulk. How will Nnamdi learn to control his powers? Will he solve his father’s murder? With the help of his best friend Chimoa, he just might.
I really enjoyed this story. It’s always fun to read a story that is set in a different place than one you are used to , and Okorafor does a fantastic job of describing the town in Nigeria and daily life. Nnamdi is a realistic young man dealing with the grief of loosing his father and trying to take care of his mother. The themes of justice vs. revenge are nicely woven throughout the story without feeling preachy. The bad guy is a great plot twist–I usually see them coming in a children’s book, and it caught me by surprise in this one. By the way, Nnedi Okorafor has won Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards for her writing. Ikenga follows in that great tradition.