I actually didn’t think I could love the War Girls duology anymore and then I read Rebel Sisters. When I finished War Girls I remember being absolutely awestruck at Onyebuchi’s world building and characterization. It is a book I recommend time and time again. So I had the highest hopes going into Rebel Sisters and I was not disappointed at all. Keep reading this book review to see what I loved!
It’s been five years since the Biafran War ended. Ify is now nineteen and living where she’s always dreamed–the Space Colonies. She is a respected, high-ranking medical officer and has dedicated her life to helping refugees like herself rebuild in the Colonies.
Back in the still devastated Nigeria, Uzo, a young synth, is helping an aid worker, Xifeng, recover images and details of the war held in the technology of destroyed androids. Uzo, Xifeng, and the rest of their team are working to preserve memories of the many lives lost, despite the government’s best efforts to eradicate any signs that the war ever happened.
Though they are working toward common goals of helping those who suffered, Ify and Uzo are worlds apart. But when a mysterious virus breaks out among the children in the Space Colonies, their paths collide. Ify makes it her mission to figure out what’s causing the deadly disease. And doing so means going back to the corrupt homeland she thought she’d left behind forever.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Rebel Sisters is a story about the importance of the past as we move forward. A central question asked throughout the book, is how do we move on from trauma, from wars, from a world that isn’t our own anymore. Onyebuchi presents a clever perspective on the future of connectivity and the dangers it could pose. The ways it can be used for knowledge, but also erasure. At the same time, Rebel Sisters asks us if people can change, if we are defined by our mistakes, and if we can move on as individuals.
Rebel Sisters examines the lies we tell other people, the fake stories we bring forth from the shadows. During the book, it also discuses the role of our past as a person and as a country. How can we strike a balance between recognizing the past, while not being consumed by it? And by our role in the bloodshed. I am consistently fascinated and in awe of Onyebchi’s worldbuilding and ideas. Rebel Sisters is no different.
How can we figure out the line to walk between keeping the past in our memories, without letting ourselves forget, and still moving forwards? In the midst of these questions, this battle we rage every day, people’s ability to change is tested. Should we be judged for our worst mistakes? Who should be the ones to decide? Rebel Sisters does not offer easy answers, continually asking us questions about humanity and memories. But it is a thought provoking detailed science fiction about the future, and the past.
This duology is truly stunning and I cannot believe the amount of growth and evolution in these characters, and the world. There is so much more to unpack after finishing Rebel Sisters. Topics like the definition of cyberized individuals, the way it asks us questions about technology in the future, and the ways trauma materializes. I need everyone to read this book so we can all discuss it and just talk for hours.