Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Released: October 15th, 2019
Warnings: Kidnappings, child soldiers
I received a copy of War Girls through BookishFirst in exchange for a fair and honest review.
War Girls is the latest novel by Tochi Onyebuchi, and is the first novel in a new series (of the same name). It’s the tale of two sisters thrown together by the means of war, and their different journies on the path to survival.
Set in 2172, the world has gone through climate change, has survived a nuclear war, and yet those lessons weren’t enough for humanity. With large chunks of the earth unlivable, the war still is a fact of life for many.
Nigeria is one such land torn apart by war. This is due partially to the lack of resources, but also the many cultural differences between the opposing sides. And this is the world that Onyii and Ify were born into.
Onyii is a warrior. She lives to fight. She chose war, but mainly as a way of controlling her life. She adopted Ify, and became the Demon of her people – fighting, destroying, and seeking revenge everywhere possible.
Ify was an orphan of the war, and Onyii took her in. They may not be sisters by blood, but they are sisters regardless. Ify loves her accent, a type of tech that she has to keep hidden. Until one day everything changes and she no longer has to hide the tech she loves. But at what cost?
Enyemaka is an android, one who was abandoned but then repurposed by the two sisters. It’s her job to take care of Ify. To teach her and make sure she’s safe. It’s a job she took to heart. And a job that she’ll do to her last.
“Other War Girls have gotten used to sleeping without their arms or their legs. But Onyii’s phantom limb haunts her in her sleep. In her dreams, she has all of her arms and legs and she can run.”
Warnings: War Girls touches upon a lot of heavy – yet very real – subjects. These are the sort of things that happen in the real world – in any world that is touched upon by war. There are subjects such as kidnapping, child soldiers, and the like all within these pages.
War Girls was described to me as a female-focused and futuristic Black Panther novel. And that was more than enough to sell me on this novel. And you know what, it absolutely lived up to that promise.
I know that some people will be intimidated about picking this novel up, thanks to the heavy basis is has on the Nigerian Civil War. I know I personally was a bit overwhelmed at the idea, since I’m not an expert at the subject. But I honestly had no trouble following along and can say that I have a stronger appreciation now, having read this book. So I encourage anybody that is hesitating to just go ahead and give it a try.
War Girls was a beautiful and emotionally compelling book. The story of Onyii and Ify was both beautiful and heartbreaking, eliciting dozens of different emotions from me at any given point. I can’t recall the last time I was so invested in the well-being of two characters. These girls felt real to me, it was as if they truly were living, breathing people, and I was desperate to see them through to the end.
This novel will start out in such a way that I found myself immediately sucked into the action. It helps that it started off running – throwing us right into the more intense parts that come with an active war.
The ups and downs in this novel were rough at times, but honestly, that was perfectly suited to a novel that was designed to make us feel the devastation of civil war. There’s something eerie and beautiful about that fact. And a bit heartbreaking as well, of course.
War Girls was an amazingly intense read – it may have been a science fiction novel, but it was heavily rooted in real life. And that added weight to the tale – especially in regards to emotions. I know that this is the first in a series, and I’ll be curious to see where Onyebuchi takes this tale.