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War Girls Hardcover – October 15, 2019
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“Onyebuchi has created a fascinating futuristic Nigeria and a plot filled with left hooks and upper cuts, even as he nobly illuminates one of the most pervasive conditions of the human experience.”--The New York Times Book Review
"Set amid the horrors of war in a world ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster, this heart-wrenching and complex page-turner, drawn from the 1960s Nigerian civil war, will leave readers stunned and awaiting the second installment."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The intense plot is narrated in alternating third-person perspectives, and the author explores themes surrounding colonization, family, and the injustices of war. The story culminates in an unexpected, heart-wrenching end. An exhilarating series opener."--Kirkus Reviews
"[A] compulsively readable story with high action and high drama in equal measure. Perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi’s novels and the Pacific Rim films."--SLJ
“War Girls is a brutal and spectacular feat of imagination.”--Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series.
About the Author
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I know that the topics in this book are based on the Nigerian Civil War, I know that it is full of difficult subject matter. I recognize that this book explores the "gray" of war and shows the reality of conflict and survival. I admire the author for writing about this and not making it an easy read for the audience. What bothered me though was the actual writing and writing style. After the first part where I was connected with the characters and involved emotionally, the author lost me. I never again was able to connect with the characters. Which was a shame, because I wanted to love this book so much. But I just didn't.
So as previously mentioned, I read this book backwards (literally). I started at the end and read each chapter in reverse order 🤪 (don’t judge me, I had my reasons). Admittedly, this was an experiment. Partially because I was just curious. Primarily because of the way I read, I often find myself rereading previous portions in order to fully understand what I just read. But also, I find that I enjoy books more when I know where they’re going. Not necessarily knowing the ending, but the comfort in knowing that things are happening for a reason, that it’s leading to something, and the writing isn’t just aimless (cough ACOTAR cough).
And honestly, I think I liked it better. If I had read it normally I’d probably be criticizing this book as another unoriginal YA novel trying too hard to be original. In my experience, YA novels are incredibly boring early on. But by starting at the end, all the good parts happened at the “beginning”, and did a much better job of holding my attention “later” in the book. On top of that, it was rather interesting to jump right into the action, and then work backwards to see how they got there (like my own little version of Momento).
So yes, this is yet another YA novel riding the coattails of Black Panther. But what I like is that War Girls doesn’t try to hide it, and instead was its intention all along. Between its characters, setting, and advanced technology, War Girls knows that it’s basically copying Black Panther, but to a point were it’s more of an homage than a rip-off.
"She can’t waver now. Not when everything that has happened has finally caught up to her. The murder of her family, her life with the Biafran War Girls, her kidnapping, her time with the Nigerians overseeing the separation of families and the detention of children dubbed “enemy combatants,” her time in prison when she had lived as an accused traitor, her attempted assassination of the person who slaughtered her family. All of it has been leading to this moment."
(Going back to reading it backwards, this segment gave me quite a bit to look “forward” to.)
Just like any other YA fantasy, War Girls is slow in the beginning, predictable in the end, and mediocre as a whole. There’s no x-factor or wow-factor here, and nothing that hasn’t already been done before to make it standout in an already over-saturated genre.
But where I will give it credit is, in comparison to other YA fantasy, War Girls is pretty nonstop. As mentioned in the excerpt, lot happens throughout the story, and they come almost one after another with little downtime in-between. It does a good job of keeping you on edge, but once you get about halfway through is when things really get interesting. Alliances are made and broken, scenes of mass destruction, body augmentation, hover bike chases, and if anything, War Girls offers a unique perspective on futuristic terrorism.
Typically, I don’t recommend reading a book backwards, but I was really curious. I knew what kind of book this was, and knew I wouldn’t have liked normally. It worked out pretty well, but I doubt I’ll be doing it again (except for maybe the sequel, just because 😉).
This was a pretty heavy book.
Onyii and Ify are War Girls. They live in an all girls war camp trying to survive and protect themselves while their country is in the middle of a bloody civil war. After their camp is attacked, they are separated and forced to live on either side of the conflict.
The authors note at the end of the book was very sobering and is a must read. While I found this book very interesting, I also found it quite challenging to read. Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad that I did read it! But the content was very heavy and the injustice of it really hurt my heart. I am torn about reading the follow up book to this, but since it isn’t available yet I have more time to reflect on it.
I gave this book 3⭐️⭐️⭐️
More injustice in the world to observe and change, towards a better world. "Gundam in Nigeria" is a great description from the author.