Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps, Clarence A. Haynes
Review,  Fantasy,  YA

Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps, Clarence A. Haynes – YA dystopian fantasy

Nubia: The Awakening Nubia is gripping, fast paced, tense and amazing YA dystopian fantasy.

YA dystopian fantasy

Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps, Clarence A. Haynes

Publication Date : November 8, 2022

Publisher : Delacorte Press

Read Date : December 2, 2022

Genre : YA, Fantasy

Pages : 368

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tea for this book : White + Saffron Tea

Disclaimer : Many thanks to PRH International for review copy.


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.


Nubia: The Awakening is gripping and interesting futuristic fantasy that revolves around three teenage refugees whose people struggle under oppression but their lives change when their dormant supernatural powers awaken.

The story is about racism, political intrigue, corruption, social difference, climate change, colonial magic, oppression, struggle, family, and friendship.

Writing is gripping and fast paced with third person narrative from Zeberi, Uzochi, and Lencho’s perspective. There is an intermittent POV of Sandra that made the plot more intriguing.

Plot is super interesting. It started with history of climate change that made Nubians- people of Nubia island off the coast of  West Africa- take refuge in NY that has Up High- antigravity tech-driven sky city (for rich and privileged)- and lower city (for poor and refugees). Lower city of NY is ravaged by poverty, drugs, and gangs and the seawall protecting lower city from being flooded by seawater is in poor state. Nubians faces endless struggle and disrespect, and our main characters Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho have their own struggles and dreams but their life changes when their ancestral supernatural powers awaken.

There is lots of build up here as author introduced world, characters and their life before starting with supernatural abilities that came in picture or let’s say we have more clarity about it after100 pages. But it never felt slow or boring. In fact, all the build up created suspense along with political intrigue. It was interesting to see what sky city lord, Krazen is planning and what is the history of Nubia and why they have supernatural powers.

All characters are flawed that made them realistic. Zuberi is my favorite so far. She is fierce, fiery, and smart warrior but she is a loner and reckless. I liked her power of seeing spirits of people and their future actions. It should make her more powerful but as story progressed her character was slowly overshadowed by Uzochi’s power and political intrigue. I hope to see her more in action in next books.

made a bad first impression. His character came out cowardly in the beginning. At first all he worked and dreamed for achieving top scores in school so he could apply for college High Up and ascend there, leaving the struggle and poverty of lower city behind. Whenever he faced confrontation, he turned to opposite side and would do anything to avoid them. Awakening of power made a sudden change in his life. His struggle with understanding this new power and it clashing with his dream was well written. One thing I didn’t like about him is his opinion towards Lencho (Uzochi’s cousin) for most of the book. He knew his uncle is a bully and brutish and yet he failed to understand Lencho’s situation. Even after discovering his power as empath, feeling other people’s pain and hearing their voices, I don’t see he exactly gets what Lencho went through and it’s another reason I still don’t have firm opinion on his development but I liked what he did in the end.

is complicated. That’s one perfect word for him. He had abusive controlling father that shaped his character, made him join the Nubian gang, earn by dealing with drugs, and leave the home. The way Uzochi looked at him with judgment and their different opinion towards the world caused rift between them. It was no surprise he found his family in gang but his actions were based on anger towards his blood family that lead to hurting his own people. His power of absorbing power/energy of other people also made him addict and made things worst. We see a little guilt but we have to wait for next book to see any epiphany or clear development in him.

Krazen is manipulative, power hungry oppressor who likes to keep his image clean by brainwashing people and twisting the truth. He makes an interesting villain. There is still lot of mystery about him. We get a glimpse of it when he mentioned to Sandra, his daughter, who her mother was but nothing more. I still can’t say much about Sandra. All I can say is she is more dangerous than her father.

World is fantastic. I enjoyed every detail of it. Global warming and climate change that affected world in this isn’t far from reality. It was interesting to read history of NY and how climate change affected life of people. Vast difference between High Up and lower city, class differences, corruption, racism, deception and manipulation was deeply rooted in the city. It was provocative to read the situation of the lower city, especially how Nubians were treated. The legend and history of Nubians and their power is fascinating. It feels like there is still more about it to be revealed in next books.

Most of twist and turns are easy to predict but there is still some revelations that surprised me. Climax is amazing with the scheme of Krazen and its execution. It was filled with more revelation, action and terrible terrible risk all characters were taking. End is both predictable and surprising. It just left me hungry for more.

Why 4 star-

This is first in a series and that means this is just an introduction. There is still lot to know about this world and the characters and development is to come in next books which makes it hard to have any firm opinion towards certain characters. Like I said I didn’t like Zuberi being overshadowed by Uzochi who is not my favorite character.

Overall, Nubia is stunning, gripping, complicated, and tense YA fantasy with amazing themes and futuristic dystopian world.

I highly recommend this if you like,
YA Fantasy
Colonial magic
Third person multiple perspectives
Complex detailed world
Theme of climate change, racism, oppression
Complicated flawed characters

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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