Cover Image: Nubia: The Awakening

Nubia: The Awakening

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Member Reviews

Wow. Do not underestimate Omar Epps and Clarence Haynes in the delivery of this African-futuristic dystopia. The themes of justice and climate change melded into heritage and courage are fantastic. Nubia: The Awakening is a gem for teen book clubs, YA, and dystopia fans.

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THIS BOOK WAS GOOD! I don’t know what I expected it to be about, but when I really got into the story I was pleasantly surprised. There is a climate and social justice mashup that moves the plot along. Because of natural disasters… the book is set in a dystopian America where the upper socio-economical class has ascended into the sky to avoid the elements. Of course this shows class and race are separated. The people of Nubia lost their country and migrated to Tri-City East and when some of their children begin to awaken the power Nubians thought were lost, this story gets real good. See video for more!

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Great debut! I can’t wait to read the next in the series, we’ll written and a really good adventure

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I was completely captivated by the world painted in this book. The story of Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho unfolds in a dystopian New York City, a city transformed by climate change and divided by class. As Nubian refugees, their history is shrouded in mystery, lost to the destruction of their homeland.

The contrast between the Nubians' struggle for survival in the flooded lower Manhattan and the privileged elite living in the Up High is stark. The narrative delves deep into themes of identity, belonging, and the weight of family secrets.

What truly sets this book apart is the emergence of extraordinary powers within the three protagonists. As their abilities grow, so does their understanding of their heritage and the world around them. The blend of supernatural elements with the harsh realities of their environment creates a gripping and thought-provoking tale.

"Rising Powers" kept me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page, eager to uncover the secrets and mysteries that bound these characters together. It's a story of resilience, self-discovery, and the enduring power of hope in the face of adversity. A must-read for anyone seeking a captivating and thought-provoking dystopian narrative.

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This is a fast-paced read that builds a colorful world adjacent to the histories of our own, telling the stories of a new generation coming into their own powers and trying to understand where they belong in a harrowing world. Epps and Haynes build a world shaped by familiar aspects of loss, hope, immigration, oppression, and overarchingly, the human journey for belonging. This is a wonderful start to an exciting series!

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Isn’t this cover just super eye catching? It looks like a poster for some upcoming movie. Okay so this is a West African YA Fantasy set in a dystopian future New York City. We have 3 teenagers whose people are climate change refugees from an African utopia, Nubia. There are themes of poverty, oppression, immigration, family, and even magic. It’s very engaging with it's fast paced plot and characters to root for. It’s kind of reminded me of Black Panther a little bit but with teenagers instead.

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I cannot lie, I did not know what to expect from Omar Epps. It certainly wasn't this. Great acting doesn't always translate into being great at other art forms but the store Epps and Haynes wove was engrossing and lyrical.

The writers wove many societal issues into the story- not just race- but also dealing with climate change, death, family and ancestors, not to mention the depths of political corruption. Despite the depth and subject matter, the story didn't feel too heavy. Just heavy enough, if that makes sense. A lighter hand would have undermined the subject matter. It's a classic tale of classism and rich vs poor, but done in a truly culturally dense and beautiful way.

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Final rating 3.5/5. I thought the premise of the book and the themes that were explored were great and the approach to exploring then was very interesting. Loved the exploration of duty, power and community. The multiple POV didn't quite work for me and workd building needed a little work. But overall, solid introduction into the series.

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I received this as part of a blog tour, but ended up listening to the audiobook instead.

Nubia: The Awakening is a story that is a nice mix of both fantasy and science fiction. In fact, I found it hard to label this one or the other because it toed the line between them so often.

The setting is in a futuristic New York, where descendants of an island called Nubia are seen as inferior to others (sound familiar?). When a few Nubians begin to discover that they have supernatural powers, they are forced to decide what they want to do with them.

For me, this is a story about manipulation as much as it is about discrimination. The ending makes it extremely clear that there are many more installments to come, and I suspect that the true evil of this series is the selfishness of adults who are willing to exploit children for their own personal gain.

Overall, this was an interesting SFF story that has many parallels to the world we live in today. I'm interested to see where this series goes.

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2.5 stars for me.
This moved really slow. There was a great deal of buildup, but over halfway through and we’re just beginning to understand what is happening. It’s taken me over 2 months to get this far and I’m left feeling unsatisfied.
I skipped ahead to the end and saw more of the same, and it ends feeling like the end of a chapter, not a book. This will be part of a series, so I’m sure that is a lot of the reason behind the ending. Not for me. Great descriptions throughout. Quite atmospheric. However I think this was having a tough time deciding if it wanted to be middle grade, YA, or something more.

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Am I the only one that gets mad when a potentially great book doesn't live up to its promise? Because the premise and the idea of Nubia are fantastic but the execution needs work, and it made me mad that it could have been so much more than a book you finish and forget about.
It focuses on three kids, refugees in what's left of a future New York from a land no one knew about living in a city that looks down on them. And the looking down isn't only metaphorical, as those rich and fortunate live in a floating city high over the poor who have to eke out a life in what's left of a once great city. Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho have spent all their lives in New York and all they know is the fight for survival required to make it through the day, but when strange abilities start to manifest in all the children of Nubia.
It's a story full of great issues of power, family, and culture that tries to set up greatness but falls a little flat due to a lack of focus. There are so many characters doing their own thing that concentrating on them might have made a great story by itself, but trying to cram so much character development into one short book makes it too jumbled.

Happy thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the read!

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Nubia: The Awakening is an interesting Afrofuturism young adult novel with a group of characters you can’t help but want to learn more about. It is this group of characters who drive the story forward and kept me reading, for were it not for them I more than likely would’ve given up on the book as I found the pacing to be slow and drawn out at times. The use of multi author narrative was the perfect way to tell this story as it enabled me to have a better picture in my mind of the world and how Zuberi, Lencho and Uzochi moved through it.

While there were times where I wanted to step away from the book, I did enjoy the topics of race, class and climate change that are key aspects of the story. I found the way these topics are dealt with throughout the book to be well done to the point where I found myself angered at the idea that US society is still grappling with racism and policing of Black and Brown people.

The other idea in this book that I found myself fascinated by was the newfound powers of the teens. While each of their powers are different, I was interested in where the powers came from, how they were connected and why they were the ones to develop and have these powers. Unfortunately my questions were not answered by the end of the book, I’m still left wondering about their powers, a question that hopefully will be answered in the next book.

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Nubia the Awakening is the first in a YA SciFi/Fantasy novel series written by actor/producer Omar Epps and writer/editor Clarence A. Haynes. The novel weems like an example of a famous person in media opting to go into genre fiction, with the help of an established writer, and that sort of combination can bear some really successful fruit at times (see Janelle Monae's The Memory Librarian). So I was curious to see how this attempt would pan out.

The result is mixed - Nubia: the Awakening takes a lot of pretty typical YA and SF/F concepts: the climate and uprising ravaged future New York City, the wealthy people all moving into a city in the sky, the leader with good publicity manipulating people and creating havoc that he can then take advantage of the PR of stopping, etc. and merges them all together into an afrofuturist novel. And the story's lead protagonists, meet quiet intellectual Uzochi, fierce reckless Zuberi and rebellious angry and abused Lencho all have interesting aspects here, even if they themselves are also pretty typical archetypes. But the book doesn't have the space to do much super interesting with them, with character development rarely having time to actually play out before major events happen to change things, and the main antagonist is such a well-worn archetype that I found it hard to really care by the end of the book, as things played out as anyone could have expected. The book deals with themes of inequality, of discrimination, and more with an unsubtle approach, but it doesn't do so in a way to say anything new or interesting, which makes this a hard recommend, even for Black readers who are looking for such YA featuring Black characters like themselves.

Trigger Warning: Parental Abuse of one of the main characters.

------------------------------------------------Plot Summary------------------------------------------------
The Year is 2098. New York City, part of a breakaway part of the United States, has been beset by climate change and mass flooding, with massive seawalls being erected to keep the waters out. Meanwhile the wealthiest people have left the rest of NYC behind, moving to Up High, a city in the sky built with antigravity technology, while a privatized security force run by the wealthy Up High leader Kraven St. John patrols the grounds below. Among those left behind on the surface, in a poor neighborhood near a Sea Wall, are immigrants from a previously unknown island, Nubia, which was once a utopia on the coast of West Africa before it was drowned by storms. The Nubians find themselves poor and scrounging to survive as a result, with oppression and racism coming from other citizens and the St. John Soldiers supposedly keeping the peace, even as the next generation of Nubians tries to find a way to live without any memory of their long lost homeland.

Zuberi is a Nubian teen who was taught by her father in the ancient Nubian fighting forms and who relies upon such forms to calm herself in the face of constant oppression and aggression from gangs and soldiers alike. Uzochi is a Nubian class prodigy at their high school who wants to earn one of the few scholarships that can take his family Up High, even if that scholarship requires him to parrot "history" of his people that is incredibly biased and racist. And Uzochi's cousin Lencho finds himself angry at it all and searching for status, as his abusive father treats him horribly and the gang he's a part of, the Divine, isn't interested in his own reckless ideas.

But when the three of them, and other Nubians of their generation, start developing superpowers that were said to belong to Nubia of old, everything begins to change. For, as Zuberi and Uzochi's parents explain to them, those powers were what brought the Nubian peoples together and brought them prosperity, and their return might just mean a change in their fortunes. But Lencho finds himself under the sway instead of the greedy ambitious Kraven St. John, who has his own plans for the Nubians and their superpowers, and will do anything to use them to his own advantage....
Nubia: The Awakening follows four point of view character throughout its story, Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho - as I describe above - and Kraven St. John's daughter Sandra, who serves mainly I guess to be a window into the bad guy's plans as she tries to figure them out and show her own value, and to....I guess, really setup the book's cliffhanger ending for the sequel. Sandra is kind of superfluous as an antagonist or even just a side character, but the other three characters get the main focus of the book, so it's not the biggest deal.

However, a bigger deal here is that the other three characters are largely archetypes who never really get page time to develop in ways that are interesting or make sense, with plotlines that often involve them cutting short character defining moments. So for example, Uzochi finds himself torn - between his original plan of studying to get a scholarship to Up High and abandoning his people, to helping other Nubians with his empathic magical powers, and to the burden that gets put on him being all too great and unfair. He's an interesting character full of depth in those ways, who has to deal with new information and wants and desires of others being put on him all very quickly. And yet, he never is allowed space to actually deal with those conflicting emotions - so he'll quit on the Nubian cause for one second due to the stress...and then be forced back to active service by an attack; he'll feel betrayed by his mother about his uncle's revelations...also cut short; he'll feel like he should be in that doesn't amount to anything either. Instead, we just have the intelligent boy here who has lots of expectations who has to prove his goodness once it all comes down to him, which is fine, but just kinda generic. The same is true of Zuberi who is set up as the good hearted, albeit reckless warrior type character, but who isn't gifted with magic that helps with that...but some form of precognition instead, which seems to show different paths a person could take. But the book doesn't really use her power except as a plot device to move characters along, and every time Zuberi takes an action that seems like an interesting divergence - like she decides at first not to join the elder Nubian planning on training the others, or to leave the group as soon as she gets some training - the plot intervenes before Zuberi gets a chance to follow through, so it might again as well be pointless. We see similar things from the third main character, Lencho, who is blatantly led astray by the major villain and manipulated into doing some terrible things (although he's voluntarily going down the path even before that point), whose conflict with the leadership with the Divine just....goes away without incident.

Essentially the book isn't long enough to really allows the characters to feel the ramifications of their actions, and while the end result might still be the same with 50 more pages, it would allow the characters to feel more 3 dimensional and less like archetypes we've seen before, and allow the plot to flow more evenly. Instead, they kind of feel empty, with me not caring all too much about them and finding it hard to really want to finish this book even when I had less than 50 pages left. This isn't helped by the book's main villain, Kraven St. John, being just generically evil dictator/fascist billionaire: using private security to oppress the lower class and racial minorities who he hates, using false flag ops to ensure good PR, and manipulating some of the magically powered Nubians he gets his hands on into furthering his ends, etc.

Just to be clear here, since I've spent much of this review complaining here: Nubia: the Awakening is fine. There's nothing offensive about the book in any way, and the archetypes the book uses work in the end just fine. And hell, the book even teases a twist in the cliffhanger that might make the second book actually more interesting. So I don't think anyone will read this and dislike it - but it just doesn't stand out in a way to make me want to recommend it, especially since Afrofuturist YA or Black YA Genre novels are thankfully becoming more common. But of course mind you, this reviewer is a White Male, so it's entirely possible I'm underrating the appeal here. But these are the thoughts I have.

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As someone who studied environment in school, it struck me pretty fast upon reading this book how likely the future described in it could unfold. Honestly, as long as you keep track in any way with the news, I'm sure you know that the climate crisis is upon us. And even if you don't, you'd still notice the drastic changes in weather patterns lately. But I digress. The point is that a book that mentions climate disasters in any way makes me happy, especially when it's done so well, painting a grim picture, no doubt, but hopefully opens some eyes.

Beyond that, the New York in Epps and Haynes' imagination is rife with class and wealth differences, ones that make living hellish for some and utopian for others. Sounds familiar? Well, the book is a pretty straightforward indictment of these things. It was a bit too obtuse for me in the beginning, especially when reading Zuberi's point of view. There were parts that made it very YA (though I was wrong about Zuberi being the main focus/character) such as the forced lingo (why does it have to be a scholar-pack when it can be a backpack?)and contrived romance. But otherwise, the story was very unique and fresh.

The story centres very much on community. Though our protagonists keep their powers secret at the beginning, it's quickly made clear that the community will help and, in turn, they would help the community. It's unexpected since most books always put such importance in hiding, in not trusting anyone, and especially not adults. The way the kinetic (the powers) manifest is so special as well, forcing me to work to keep up with the lore of the world, but also opening my mind to new possibilities because of it.

All in all, it was a really smooth and easy read. My issue was that I couldn't quite relate with the characters. They were, in their own ways, focussed on one thing only, and that made them more bland than I would have liked, even if their worldviews were challenged. Another issue I have is there seemed not to have been high enough stakes during the climax. The whole book was setting up for something and it happens, but it was expected and wasn't resolved in a very good way. I'm sorry for being vague but it could be considered a spoiler and perhaps you'll know what I mean if you read it. At the same time, everything escalated too quickly but not in a way that made sense. It felt more like we're being set up for the next book, not this one. Though the world is an interesting one, with stories and magic I'd love to revisit, I think there's a bar this book is not quite hitting to get me to the next one.

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From the very first sentence, I knew this would be a phenomenal world. This novel by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes, resonates with vivid description, intriguing characters and mad world building. The story alternates between the different point of views of the three teenagers and asks very real questions that reflect society today and current issues. It raises questions about power, those who have it and what happens when you gain it unexpectedly. I also love the way manipulation of power is explored and white privilege. 

Most of the reason that the story is so phenomenal is the characters. Each one is written with complexity, with heart and with clear motivations. I also love the way each explores their newfound power in different ways and while have different reactions to their gifts, also have similar reasons for using their power. The conflict between the teens and the adults makes for a riveting, amazing novel with a strong ending and a phenomenal world that makes me

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For a second book in a row, I found myself confused yet intrigued by a narrative. It took me a little while to get engaged with the narrative since I spent almost the whole first half of the book trying to figure out what was going on. Once the author revealed the twist through the characters figuring out what was happening to them, I could finally relax a little, giving up the tension of trying to figure things out. It felt like the plot really came together at that point, sweeping me up and making me desire to read the sequel to see where the story goes.

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I wanted to like this book more. The premise is awesome, but in the end I just felt depressed. I get that this is the first book in a series and basically everything was building up to the what is going to be the major conflict, but I needed some sort of resolution at the end.

I really believe that my issues with the book are me. I am just not in the right headspace for books about white men in power doing everything they can to hurt others just so they can stay in power. It is too much like real life right now. Also, Lencho was the worst and I hated his chapters.

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It is no coincidence that Nubia: The Awakening is published the week that Wakanda Forever opens at the movie theaters. Unbound by any responsibilities to that other afro-futurist production, actor and producer Omar Epps is able to release his own afro-futurist YA fiction about a new generation of gifted refugees from an imaginary country run by a super-powered Black elite. And it’s not terrible.

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Very action packed sci-fi fantasy novel with social commentary such as climate change. Nubia: The Awakening is about three teens leaving in a futuristic New York City. Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho are Nubians, a group of people who escaped to New York after their home of Nubia was destroyed by a natural disaster of a planet plagued by climate change. They also find themselves suddenly coming into some intense and strange powers, powers that throw all of their lives and the lives of the Nubians around them into chaos. The pace was slow at the beginning but it picks up in the middle.

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