Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun – Book Review

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu

Onyeka has a lot of hair­—the kind that makes strangers stop in the street and her peers whisper behind her back. At least she has Cheyenne, her best friend, who couldn’t care less what other people think. Still, Onyeka has always felt insecure about her vibrant curls…until the day Cheyenne almost drowns and Onyeka’s hair takes on a life of its own, inexplicably pulling Cheyenne from the water.

At home, Onyeka’s mother tells her the shocking truth: Onyeka’s psycho-kinetic powers make her a Solari, one of a secret group of people with super powers unique to Nigeria. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari 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…

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun is the first in a new children’s scifi/fantasy series. The school where Onyeka ends up is a lot like Xavier’s School straight out of X-Men, with children with all sorts of super-human abilities. Onyeka’s is fascinating (just like the Inhuman Medusa from Marvel Comics as well) her unique hair can do amazing things. I love that Onyeka discovers that her hair – something kids back in England would make fun of because it didn’t fit their idea of “normal” – becomes her strength and she learns to love it. And it’s set mostly in Nigeria, with a look at a rich culture that most Americans know far too little about, including me. It’s a powerful story and a lot of fun, with suspense and mystery that builds to a fantastic ending. I look forward to the next in this action-packed series.

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