Omar Epps Afrofuturistic YA Fantasy Novel Exclusive Excerpt

An illustration of a woman in lavishly ornate attire facing forward with two men behind her.

Image: Delacorte Press

Advertised as “for fans of Black Panther Y Children of blood and bone,” Nubia: the awakening has another appeal: it’s co-written by the actor and producer Omar Eppswhose scores of credits include scream 2, love and basketball, HouseY We are. io9 has an exclusive excerpt to share today from this upcoming release.

Here’s a plot synopsis to get you started:

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

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

For many, being a Nubian means that you are destined for a life fraught with hardship and disrespect. But Zuberi, Uzochi and Lencho begin to feel that there could be more. Something inside 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 everything they can to become even more powerful than they already are. Now Zuberi, Uzochi and Lencho will be faced with a choice: do they use their heritage to raise up their people or leave them behind? The fate of his city and its people hangs in the balance.

Here is the beautiful full cover of Adeyemi Adegbesan, followed by the excerpt, which introduces the character of Zuberi and the strange world he finds himself in.

Image for article titled Read an Excerpt from Actor Omar Epps' Thrilling New Afrofuturistic Teen Fantasy Novel

Image: Delacorte Press

He turned towards the bag, shifting his weight as he landed more punches before switching to high kicks. He crouched down, his legs shaking from the effort. He must have been in the park for at least an hour by now, and he was feeling it everywhere. It did not matter. The pain was part of the process and she welcomed it with open arms. Punching, kicking, and maneuvering around the bag every day helped Zuberi deal with everything she needed before she could be a “normal person,” as she liked to call Vriana.

On the next hit, he connected with a sharp corner of the bag. A bright pain shot up his arm and he took a step back. It was then that he heard a voice, a whisper.

Zuberi’s head whipped around as he searched for the source. She did not expect to be alone in the park, many people used it for recreation and, in some cases, as a home. But this early, he was usually calm. Zuberi wiped her forehead before seeing something move in the brush in front of her.

“Someone there?” she cried out, flexing her fingers. More agitation. Zuberi could have sworn she heard some kind of gasp, followed by a cough.

She bit her lip. It was impossible not to hear her father’s voice in her head, telling her this could be a trap and for her to run, now. As head of her own security company, he knew every trick and scam in the book. The city was full of desperate people, and desperation made people dangerous.

But Zuberi also knew that if any mugger was hiding in the brush, he had the wrong girl.

He took a few tentative steps into the brush. As she got closer, she picked up a cool April breeze that made her shiver. She blinked at the dust that rose around her, then opened her eyes again.


At first, Zuberi didn’t know what he was seeing. It was like a wisp of air, something that was completely there and not, like a spark of electricity sliding over an exposed wire. Here and gone again, more than a shadow but not by long. A wisp of a figure, barely perceptible in the morning mist. She blinked again, thinking that the exertion of the morning was taking its toll on her.

And that’s when the fire sharpened.

A woman appeared, with long braids over her shoulders and eyes that sparkled in the rays of sunlight that fell through the branches of the trees. Her gaze settled on Zuberi, penetrating, implacable. She wore long robes, her arms crossed. Zuberi felt like she was being judged, but why?

The woman’s eyes lowered and Zuberi started. There, on the ground, two feet peeked out from behind a tree. One woman, the same woman Zuberi clearly saw floating just above, was passed out, wedged in a hollow in the tree trunk under a series of branches that housed a school of nu-raves. She had her eyes closed, her head tilted forward. Her skin was dyed purple, drool dripping down her chin.

Zuberi stepped back.

Goddess . .

He knew what he was looking at, though he had never seen it up close before. She knew from the way the woman’s veins bulged in her hands and how her cheeks hung loose that these were the signs of Uplift.

Elevation. Even the drugs that swarmed the city were mixed with promises of life in the heights. Zuberi felt sick to his stomach, especially now when the woman in front of him was squirming.

But while Elevation explained the woman’s condition, it didn’t explain the figure hovering above her. The woman continued to look at her judiciously, from start to finish. That look, she reminded Zuberi of her father and her aunts. She reminded him—

Suddenly, the figure was gone. Zuberi narrowed her eyes, then closed her eyes, then opened them again. The air was clear, empty. He took a step back, crossing his arms and pressing them against his body. She felt dizzy.

He had clearly tried too hard. Hallucinations were a problem with dehydration and overexertion. His father told him that all the time. And when Zuberi looked back at his empty water bottle, he knew he had done too much this morning.

Copyright Excerpt © 2022 by 72073 Inc.

Jacket Art Copyright © 2022 by Adeyemi Adegbesan

Published by Delacorte Press, a publisher of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Nubia: the awakening by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes will be released on November 8; you can reserve a copy here.

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