Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Today Marshmallow reviews a 2020 novel by Nnedi Okorafor: Ikenga. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, what do you want to tell us about this book?

Marshmallow: Ikenga is about a twelve-year-old boy named Nnamdi, whose father used to be the police chief in their village in Nigeria. But the father is killed and his murderer has not been caught. Nnamdi feels weak, because he knows who the murderer is but he is too young to do anything about it. But one day, his father’s spirit visits him, and gives him an Ikenga, a small statue of a horned creature who gives Nnamdi great powers, making him transform into a powerful, seven-foot-tall man.

S: That is very interesting. So he transforms like the Incredible Hulk, or like Superman or Batman, into a hero with super powers.

M: Yes. The village he is from is very corrupt, and Nnamdi takes on the criminals who do whatever they want and go unpunished. But along the way he also needs to figure out how to control his powers.

S: So is there a lot of violence in the book then?

M: There are some fight scenes, so I think one could call it violent, but we mainly see everything through Nnamdi’s perspective, and we see him go through his daily life with his mom, and it does not feel like violence is the central theme.

S: What would you say the central theme is?

M: I think it is about controlling your own emotions, your own powers. Nnamdi needs to figure out how to control his new powers, or he might start hurting people he cares about.

S: So would you say it is about self-control or about knowing yourself?

M: I’d say both.

Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

S: I understand that the author uses a lot of ingredients from Nigerian and Igbo mythology and spirituality. Did you find it difficult to enter into that world?

M: The author really creates a vivid world, a totally convincing one, and so as the reader I found it really easy to get into the story and its story world.

S: That is really great to hear. I’m really getting eager to read Ikenga. Some of what you are telling me reminds me of Children of Blood and Bone, also by a Nigerian-American author, Tomi Adeyemi, who was able to create a completely captivating world in Africa, of magic, spirits, and myths. But of course you have not read that book yet. So let me ask you another question. If you were able to ask one question to the author, what would it be?

M: Let me think. I think the story wraps up really well, and the author doesn’t keep us hanging but I found Nnamdi and his world fascinating, and am kind of curious if the author would be writing more about Nnamdi in the future.

S: Hmm, I think that is an interesting question. This is a recent book, so we do not know if there will be a sequel, and if as you say, the story is already wrapped up well, there may not be. But maybe we will explore other books the author wrote. She does have several others; she apparently was a national-level athlete in high school before getting paralyzed and turning to writing.

M: I did not know that.

S: Yes, her story is very moving. But she is a very interesting writer, and maybe we will read more books from her.

M: I’d like that!

S: Okay, this is probably a good time to wrap up this review. How would you rate this book?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Thanks. And what do you want to tell our readers?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Today Marshmallow reviews The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow reviews The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like young adult novels with mystery, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): High-schooler Avery Kylie Grambs has recently discovered that she has been included in the will of Tobias Hawthorne, a rich philanthropist who recently died. However, Avery has no idea why she is in the will. She is not related to him, as far as she knows, and has, in fact, never seen him in her life.  She didn’t even know who he was until recently.

Eventually, she attends the reading of the will, which has been delayed until she can attend. Hawthorne’s two daughters and four grandsons are dismayed to learn that out of his forty-six point two billion dollars, they only receive a couple hundred thousand dollars each. Avery, on the other hand, receives the rest of his money, along with all of his possessions, including his house. The only term for this is that she must live in his house for a year. This clearly does not sit well with Hawthorne’s relatives, especially one of his daughters. Skye Hawthorne had hoped that her four sons would receive a majority of the money.

Now that everything is owned by Avery, the Hawthornes have different reactions. Nash Hawthorne, the eldest grandson of Tobias, doesn’t really show up too much. Grayson Hawthorne, the grandson that everyone thought would receive most of the inheritance, believes that Avery somehow conned Tobias into writing her into his will. Jameson, the second youngest, is intrigued by Avery. Xander, the youngest, doesn’t really have any grudges against Avery, as he never thought he was going to receive a large chunk of the money anyways. Skye, Tobias Hawthorne’s daughter and the mother of Nash, Grayson, Jameson, and Xander, is furious, and together with her sister Zara, she starts to try and figure out a way to “reclaim” the inheritance. 

With all this money at stake, the Hawthornes may resort to violence to sort out “the Avery issue”. But Jameson and Avery believe that she was selected for a reason. Tobias Hawthorne was very into puzzles, and Avery and Jameson believe that she is part of the last puzzle of Tobias Hawthorne. But even so, who are the players, and who will win?

Marshmallow is reading the beginning of Chapter 57 in The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading the beginning of Chapter 57 in The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that The Inheritance Games is a good book, but it is part of a series, which I did not know when I started reading. It was a surprise when I realized that the story would continue into a second book, which I have not read yet. So the mystery is not yet fully solved (even though we do figure out eventually why Avery was in the will).

The plot is very well thought out and thought-provoking. Also, the author and Tobias Hawthorne are very fond of word games, especially with names. (Cough, Avery, cough.)

The Inheritance Games has 370 pages, spilt into 91 short chapters. Avery is the narrator, and we meet each character through her eyes. Events unfold through her perspective as well, meaning that puzzles are only resolved when she figures things out. I was able to figure out some things ahead of time, but mostly the mystery kept me guessing.

In short, I found The Inheritance Games intriguing and very interesting. However, I believe that it is intended for older children, certainly a young adult novel. The plot is pretty complicated. And as the first book in a series, The Inheritance Games sets the scene really well for the second one to come. I’m looking forward to reading that,ys too.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.

Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley

Today Caramel wanted to review a book he discovered in his classroom library: N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, written by Michael Buckley. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.
Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me a bit about this book.

Caramel:The book is about a secret organization called N.E.R.D.S. It is an acronym, for National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society.

S: That’s a funny way to open up the word “nerds”. So this secret society, is it made up of children?

C: Yes, and they are all nerds.

S: What does that mean?

C: I think it means someone who is super-smart.

S: And sometimes it comes with connotations of socially awkward and inept, because people occasionally use the term in a derogatory way.

C: But the nerds in this book are pretty cool. They have super cool gadgets.

S: Ooh, that sounds interesting. Tell me more.

C: For example there is a character called Jackson Jones, who is wearing braces, but the braces can change into weapons and anything else he needs at the time. Then there is Duncan Dewey who can shoot glue out of his hands. He can also stick to walls and so can climb walls. He can also climb on the ceiling.

S: Those are some super cool tools and gadgets really. The characters seem to be nerdy but also kind of like superheroes, right?

C: Yes. And they solve crimes together.

S: But they are school children, aren’t they? How does this crime-fighting fit into their school lives?

C: There is a fire alarm that they set off and they sneak away without anyone noticing they are gone.

S: Hmm, not a very respectable thing to do, setting off an alarm like that, but maybe they are doing very important work. So tell me, what kinds of crimes do they fight?

C: They are fighting evil people, like people who kidnap scientists and so on. So in this book a few scientists have been kidnapped, and they try to get the scientists back.

S: Oooh, that sounds serious!

C: Yes it is.

Caramel is reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.
Caramel is reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.

S: So I saw you read this book really fast. There are lots of pictures in it, and I could see that the book could be appealing to you from how it started. Can you read the dedication page to our readers?

C: Okay, here it is:

For dorks, dweebs, geeks, spazzes, waste cases, and nerds everywhere. Some day you too will change the world.

S: So this book is written to inspire kids who see themselves as outcasts in a way.

C: I guess it could be. But it is also really really funny. And the mystery is very interesting.

S: I can tell you really enjoyed the book. Do you think you will read the next one in the series? Apparently there are a total of five books.

C: Yes. I want to read them all!

S: That’s very good. So tell me your three words to describe the book then, and we can wrap up this review.

C: Fun, funny, and adventurous.

S: That sounds neat! And what else do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley, and is looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Caramel enjoyed reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley, and is looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

A few weeks ago Marshmallow reviewed Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. Today she is talking with Sprinkles about The Dark Is Rising, Susan Cooper’s next book in The Dark Is Rising series, the book that gave the series its name.

Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: Marshmallow let us start with you telling us what this book is about.

Marshmallow: This book is about a boy named Will. On his eleventh birthday, he discovers that he is one of the Old Ones. That means he has some special kind of magic powers.

S: Hmm, that reminds me of another eleven-year old boy who discovers he has magic powers…

M: Yes, Harry Potter also learns about his magic powers when he turns eleven.

S: Why do you think these two authors took this age to be the time for these boys to discover their hidden powers?

M: Probably because that is the average age of the readers they are targeting.

S: That is a very good reason Marshmallow. Can you think of any others?

M: I guess that is when children go to a new school, like finishing primary school?

S: I think that might be related. Eleven is also the age when many children start going through puberty. So it is naturally a time of change and discovery.

M: I guess that makes sense.

S: So now tell me what these Old Ones are about.

M: They are godlike, powerful beings, with magical powers. I think they might be immortal. They are on the side of the Light, which is always fighting the Dark.

S: Hmm, tell me more. What is the Light? Is the Dark the dark that is rising in the title of the book?

M: The Light stands for good and the Dark is evil.

S: So if the Light is represented or protected by immortal beings, are the protectors and defenders of the Dark also immortal?

M: Not sure. I think so. The Dark seems to find helpers at any era though, and the story of the book is about the twentieth century when a new battle is being fought.

S: Is this related to any of the wars of the twentieth century?

M: I think they might be related, but the fight between the Light and the Dark Will is pulled into involves him finding the Six Signs.

S: Hmm, what are the Six Signs?

M: They are six symbols made of wood, bronze, iron, water, fire, and stone. The fire and water ones are not really made of fire or water of course. But they represent them.

S: So Will is supposed to find these objects to help the Light, right?

M: Yes.

Marshmallow is reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

S: So this book is supposed to be in a five-book series that started with Over Sea, Under Stone. How are the two books related? Will was not in that first book, nor have we heard about the signs in that one.

M: True. Will was not in that book. And this book seems pretty unrelated to that book. But there is a character in this one that we know from the first book: Merriman Lyon in this book is Uncle Merry from the first book. And the events of the first book are mentioned in passing in this one.

S: That is interesting. And it seems from the description of the third book in the series that Barney, Simon and Jane, the three children from that first book, will meet Will eventually.

M: Oh, that’s intriguing!

S: We are going to have to read that third book soon then, I suppose.

M: Yes, I guess so.

S: Then did you enjoy reading this one?

M: Yes, I liked it! I rate it 1o0%.

S: Cool! Let us wrap up this review then. You always want to end our chats the way Caramel ends his reviews. Right? So go ahead!

M: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Marshmallow rates The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper 100%.