TL;DR – Rating 4/5 – Fast pace and completely uncompromising, I am completely shocked that War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi is listed under Teen/Young Adult. Don’t get me wrong, one of the main characters, Ify, does fit the bill for a teen protagonist. Onyii is the older main character whose story bounces between her youth and her as a young adult as we read about her experiences in the Nigerian civil war between Nigerian and Biafra told in the year 2172 with man run mechs and futuristic weapons of war. In the backdrop is a planet slowly decaying under years of climate change and uncontrolled industrial building. Parts of the planet are radioactive wastelands were only mutated people and animals exist and you have to wear a special suit to even hope to survive. War girls do not hold back in how insanely bloody and brutal this war gets. According to the author, he purposely wrote this to bring attention to how bad the civil war is and how it still affects Nigeria.
War Girls: Of Love, Family, and War
War Girls tells the story of two sisters, one a soldier and the other a tech genius, who get separated because of the war and their experiences living and surviving both sides of the conflict. In the war, many characters die brutal deaths. There are no major twists and turns, maybe a few surprises. But twists are not what War Girls is about. It’s about how war affects relationships and family, men, women and children, and the country at war. How fighting so long builds in hard to erase prejudices, and the price people have to pay for peace. This is not a winner/loser hero’s journey. There aren’t any deep lessons or waxing poetic about philosophy. Tochi Onyebuchi takes great pains to tell a story that takes the reader to the heart, blood, and pain of war never holding your hand or holding back.
War Girls: The Ruins of War
I gave War Girls 4 out of 5 because one thing about the story didn’t hold my interest. It was how fast some of the characters died. And get ready with War Girls, death is almost a main character in this story. I just wish I could have gotten to know some of these characters a little better. The cast was well introduced but often we’d get a great introduction, some really good moment when the character is gone. This is not a growth story, even if both main characters end up a little different from the beginning of the book until the end. As I said before, this is a story about the horror and pain of war. Sometimes character growth gets pushed to the side for that narrative purpose.
Tochi Onyebuchi is a very imaginative author who can write action and suspense well. There was a part of the book where the two main characters are caught in the middle of absolute chaos and you feel every terrifying moment in the prose. This future Earth is harsh, uncompromising, and ready to crush innocent and guilty alike under its boots. If you’re looking for exciting action, an uncompromising view of the reality of war through an Afro-futuristic lens, War Girls is the book for you.