Book Review: American War by Omar El Akkad

american war

 

Reviewed by: Bethany
Genre: Fiction
Format: Softcover 

Page count: 432 pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: YAS

Canada Reads 2k18: Take 2

Okay, after having now read two of the Canada Reads shortlist finalists, I’m pretty sure that the theme should have been “stuff that could definitely happen” or “one book to open your eyes before this stuff happens please oh my god”. I was talking to a customer about it and she said she felt that this storyline isn’t all that far fetched. Scary stuff, you guys.

Here’s the blurb from the back of Omar El Akkad’s debut, American War:

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the war breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, her home state is half underwater, and the unmanned drones that fill the sky are not there to protect her. A stubborn, undaunted, and thick-skinned tomboy, she is soon pulled into the heart of the secessionist country when the war reaches Louisiana and her family is forced into Camp Patience, a sprawling tent city for refugees. There she is befriended by a mysterious man who opens her eyes to the injustice around her and under whose tutelage she is transformed into a deadly instrument of revenge.

Just saying, but the back of the book literally says “open her eyes”, so…

This book is heartbreaking. It’s got civil war, refugees, global warming, and some old dude taking advantage of a child’s grief. At least it’s not a cliché (except maybe that last thing). Basically, I felt a lot of feelings.

Over the course of the book Sarat goes through some very dynamic changes and it’s especially frustrating when you consider the kind of life she could have had if she’d never met Albert Gaines. HE MAKES ME SO MAD. She’s such a victim of circumstance and this civil war really shapes who she becomes.

Here’s what Tahmoh Penikett had to say about the book he’ll be defending:

“An exceptional work of speculative fiction, Omar El Akkad’s book American War imagines the United States during a second Civil War. A war revolving around religious bigotry, regional hatred, racism, sexism and fake news. Triggered by the climate crisis and opposition of ‘off-oil’ northern states versus southern ‘drill baby drill’ states. This arresting and unsettling book teems with brilliant description, colourful characters and echoes of America today. This is the one book to open your eyes.”

I think this book is very relevant to the times we’re living in. Much like life, this book is extremely frustrating, but definitely worth experiencing. #simile

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