War Girls is set in a futuristic, Black Panther inspired Nigeria, and follows two sisters, Onyii and Ify, who are torn apart by war, but dream of peace and a future where they can be together. Throughout the story we learn that they are pretty much willing to do just about anything to make that happen!
So, let’s address the elephant in the room first. ‘Black Panther inspired Nigeria’ might set off a few alarm bells for some people who might be worried that War Girls is going to be a bit of a Black Panther rip-off and riding the coat-tails of a recently phenomenally successful film. I will admit – that was me at first when I read the description for the first time. I fully admit that I was skeptical about how original the story would be, but let me tell you that War Girls stands on its own two feet and whilst similarities can for sure be drawn, it’s does its own thing in its own way.
Now, on to the story!
War Girls takes place in 2172 in a country where there has been war (obviously), and all the awful stuff that follows war; famine, nuclear fallout, misery. With this being set in the future, technology plays a massive part in the story as War Girls explores how technology and humans combine.
Quite a lot of War Girls is inspired by the Nigerian Civil War – a subject I know absolutely hee-haw about. Despite this, I didn’t have too hard of a time handling this but if you want to have a bit more context to the real-life events before reading War Girls then the author has included a historical note at the end – it might be worth reading that first. Or…ya know…Wikipedia.
Ok – so the war aspects of War Girls is brutal but realistic. The creation of boundaries and territories with absolutely no regard for human life was still juts as prevalent in this future setting as it is now, and pretty much always has been, hence the believability.
With the amalgamation of human and machine we get to explore the possible future we could be heading in to with technology, as well as linking the child soldier imagery from past, present and future. Only this time the children are damn near cyborgs rather than simply being armed.
War Girls wastes absolutely no time getting to the action – which is a big risk as this is a whole new futuristic world. But this time the risk paid off. I was super into the fast start and the action packed-ness of the plot but I do have to say that I felt that the time scopes were a little confusing at times and didn’t seem to quite sync up with character actions, thoughts or developments.
The whole story was very imaginative, especially the tech, but my biggest criticism of the book as a whole is the lack of description. I could tell the imagination was there for the author, but the descriptions were lacking for the reader. We got quite a bit of description of the technological elements of the war girls themselves – but other than that I was left wanting more.
I think physical descriptions of people and locations were desperately lacking.
Practically every concept in War Girls was super interesting to me but for the majority of the time I couldn’t picture it in my head. The visualisation was gone because I needed more descriptions and explanations.
I also think there were a few Deus Ex Machina’s at play too – pun kinda intended – and this is never more obvious that with our MC’s Onyii and Ify. They both repeatedly find themselves facing Mission Impossible levels of ‘odds are against us’ situations and every single time they survive and/or were saved inexplicably. The frequency that this happened got on my nerves. Yes, our MC’s are likely to live, but please give me a little more realism here.
Having said that, I really liked the characters of Onyii and Ify and their points of views. I also really liked Enyemaka – Ify’s robot friend. That gave me serious Iko vibes from The Lunar Chronicles.
I didn’t end up loving War Girls as much as I wanted to, mostly because of the development and description issues. But having said that, I enjoyed the smooth writing style that Tochi Onyebuchi has and I do plan on reading the sequel.
Honestly though, a constant thought that I had throughout this entire reading experience was how good of a mecha anime or even manga that War Girls would make!
Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria.
The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.
Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.
And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.
Acclaimed author, Tochi Onyebuchi, has written an immersive, action-packed, deeply personal novel perfect for fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Marie Lu, and Paolo Bacigalupi.
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[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review. I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions are honest and my own.
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