War Girls

Penguin/Razorbill. Oct. 2019. 464p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451481672.
Gr 9 Up–Sisters Onyii and Ify find themselves on opposing sides of a brutal civil war in this Afrofuturist adventure set in 2172 Nigeria. Onyebuchi draws on the history of the Biafran War (also known as the Nigerian Civil War) of the 1960s and sets this story, inspired by actual events, against the backdrop of a futuristic world filled with sleek technology and brutal war machinery, including bionic modifications for child soldiers and mechanized battle suits. The shifting narration follows Onyii and Ify as well as other characters as they try to find their way back to each other, and themselves, during the war and in the tenuous peace that follows. The sense of happenstance or destiny that continues to bring Onyii and Ify together underscores the arbitrary nature of war and the costs that are paid by everyone in the line of fire. Onyebuchi’s stark narrative is unflinching as he illuminates this little known, and sadly still timely, moment in history. Intense action scenes contrast sharply against an incisive criticism of the costs of senseless battle and the story’s commentary on the powerful bonds that tie family together for better or worse.
VERDICT A bleak but 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

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