Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes #bookreview #YA #fantasy #dystopian

From beloved actor and producer Omar Epps and writer Clarence A. Haynes comes the biggest epic fantasy of the year. A powerful saga of three teens, the children of refugees from a fallen African utopia, who must navigate their newfound powers in a climate-ravaged New York City. Perfect for fans of Black Panther and Children of Blood and Bone.

For Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho, Nubia is a mystery. Before they were born, a massive storm destroyed their ancestral homeland, forcing their families to flee across the ocean to New York City. Nubia, a utopic island nation off the coast of West Africa, was no more, and their parents’ sorrow was too deep for them to share much of their history beyond the folklore.

But New York, ravaged by climate change and class division, is far from a safe haven for refugees, and Nubians live as outcasts, struggling to survive in the constantly flooding lower half of Manhattan, while the rich thrive in the tech-driven sky city known as the Up High.

To many, being Nubian means you’re fated for a life plagued by difficulties and disrespect. But Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho are beginning to feel there might be more. Something within them is changing, giving each of them extraordinary powers. Extraordinary and terrifying powers that seem to be tied to the secrets their parents have kept from them.

And there are people Up High watching, eager to do anything they can to become even more powerful than they already are. Now Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho will be faced with the choice–do they use their inheritance to lift their people, or to leave them behind. The fate of their city, and their people, hangs in the balance. 

I never missed an episode of House when it was on, and when I saw that Omar Epps (Dr. Eric Foreman) had co-written a book, there was no doubt I’d read it. And just look at that stunning cover!

This novel is set in NYC decades in the future, but I liked that a history of the city is given before the story begins. Drastic climate change has necessitated the building of sea walls around the city and the creation of a sky city. Naturally, only the privileged have “ascended” to the sky city while Nubians and others live below. Racism, class division, and political corruption run rampant and affects each of the main characters in some way. My blood boiled at how the Nubians were treated by other citizens, students, teachers, etc.

Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho are very well-drawn, but also flawed – which makes them easily relatable. Each have their own goals and dreams, but when their powers emerge and expectations of them are explained by the elders, the teens feel as if they’ve lost control of their own lives. Watching them weigh the options of putting their people first versus their own wants and needs is a little bit of a coming of age experience.

Comp titles of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther are spot on (I’m a fan of both), and I’d also toss in the TV show Heroes from several years ago. Pacing is pretty steady, tensions and stakes are high, and although the purpose of the powers still remains a mystery, I expect more will be revealed in the sequel. Which I will most definitely be reading.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

18 thoughts on “Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes #bookreview #YA #fantasy #dystopian

  1. The impact of climate change didn’t strike me as that far off, Teri. I can definitely see it. And what an interesting premise. I can feel for the teens just from your review. The cover is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recommendation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, Jan – makes you wonder if parts of this story are a little prophetic. What I said to Diana about investing in real estate in the sky may not be all that funny in years to come.


  2. I just finished this book and I enjoyed it. I wanted more in the end as it was getting more and more interesting with political intrigue. Most of the revelations aren’t that surprising except about Sandra and her mother. I still can’t have any opinion about her as she is so unpredictable and I don’t get why she is doing all that. I agree all MC are super flawed specially Lencho and I can’t wait to see when he realizes his mistakes. I loved Zuberi so it just didn’t feel right when she took a back seat in the second half of the story and story focused more on Uzochi. i will post my review next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t made up my mind about Sandra yet, and you’re right about the politics, Yesha. So much going on and no shortage of corruption with it. I’m also wondering about Lencho – maybe he’ll have a mind-blowing epiphany in the sequel.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It makes me want to rewatch some episodes, Tessa. I haven’t watched any in years, but I’ve seen them listed on my program guide. I may have to look up those interviews with Epps. It’s a fantastic debut novel – he should be proud.

      Liked by 1 person

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