Review: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun (Onyeka #1)

Title: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun
Author: Tọlá Okogwu
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Black Panther meets X-Men in this action-packed and empowering middle grade adventure about a British Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers—perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers, The Marvellers, and Rick Riordan!

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 has a lot of hair that is out of control most of the time. One day, when her friend begins to drown, Onyeka swims after her, and her hair somehow pulls them both out. Onyeka’s mother tells her that she’s inherited these special powers from her father, who was a Solari. The Solari are a group of people with super powers in Nigeria. Her mother brings her to Nigeria to find her father and get answers on how to control her newfound power at the Academy of the Sun. 

This book is described as Black Panther meets X-Men and that’s the perfect comparison! Most of the story was set in Nigeria, in an advanced school filled with kids who have various super powers. The school was divided in four groups, by the type of power students had. The groups had to compete against each other and all the students had to compete against one another with grades and challenges. 

I loved the message that something that was perceived as a weakness is actually strength. Onyeka’s mom had strict rules for how she had to treat her hair. It was often a mess and going in every direction, until she learned how to control it. What she thought was her weakness ended up being the source of her super power. 

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun is a great start to a middle school adventure series. 

Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Shuri by Nic Stone

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Have you read Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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