As much as I really wanted to like this book, I don't think it was for me the way that the Binti books were. I read a fair amount of YA, so I don't think it was because this was written for a younger audience than the Binti books were, though that might have something to do with it. I also don't think that it was because this is a new and different system of magic based on a culture that I'm not familiar with; usually I'm all about the new and weird, and this new system of magic was no exception. I mean, the magic rewards your for gaining knowledge and mastery! That's pretty cool. And it's not that I didn't like Sunny; she's bright and resilient and everything that you could hope for in a protagonist.
I think the problem that I'm having is the way that Sunny moves through the magical world that she's introduced to, and through the story itself. She's dragged into the world of magic, initiated without an explanation, and constantly on the back foot throughout the whole story. She does what she's told to do, and she doesn't have much choice because of how little information she's given. When she and her friends triumph over the big bad, it's not because of anything that Sunny has learned, or any of her special skills, it's because of who she is. Not because of an increased understanding or acceptance of who she is on her part, but simply because of who she is. That felt off to me, like it could have been handled slightly better?
In any case, this book is still really good, Sunny's lack of agency in a world she doesn't understand aside. The characters are fun and the magic system is fascinating. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants more Okorafor after reading Binti.
4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.