(5/5 stars) I'm not sure where I heard of Akata Witch; it was probably one of my podcasts. I was just excited to read a fantasy novel based on a magic system from a non-European mythology. I did not know it was a YA novel, though, and I was very delightfully surprised by what I found. The story structure and plot aren't exceptionally different from other stories of this sort: a young outsider learns that she has a destiny and finds camaraderie in a community of other outcasts. But the characters are fun and interesting. The culture is lush and fascinating. And the magic system is scary and fascinating. Overall, I really enjoyed this book quite a lot.
(2/5 stars) Strange, inconsistent characterization in the main character combined with an extremely predictable plot made this a distinctly un-entertaining read for me. You can pretty much guess everything about this book from the summary on Amazon: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite -- a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system -- even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them. But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them. If you want a book about parasites taking people over, I would recommend The Girl with All the Gifts instead. And in my parasite hobbyist's opinion, I think the chosen parasite in The Girl with All the Gifts makes more sense than a genetically modified tapeworm.
I recently chose two audiobooks from one of my local public libraries and they just happen to both be about Google. Kinda. They are Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and The Circle by Dave Eggers. It was a coincidence that they turned out to hinge on common themes and elements, but it was a very interesting contrast in perspective. Mr. Penumbra's takes a rather positive view of technology and data and how it can help us solve mysteries and enjoy life more deeply. The Circle, however, takes a far warier view of our connected, internet society and the threat it poses to individual freedom and liberty. I would recommend them both for different reasons. The first book is a fun, light-hearted mystery/adventure with lots of literary color. The second book is basically a horror story in the tradition of 1984 and A Brave New World.