War Girls is one of those books which builds up with an intensity. From the beginning I was hooked, but as I kept turning the pages, I fell more and more in love with the story and the characters. War Girls is a story about the consequences of war and the road to peace.
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.
War Girls is, unsurprisingly, a story about war. The children who look up to the sky and see the shadows of drones. Built on the historical conflict of the Nigerian Civil War, War Girls is a powerful book that refuses to let us walk away. Told over a span of years, Onyebuchi refuses to give us easy answers about guilt, revenge, and peace. A conflict over minerals, over the ground they walk on, turns into something more – a rhetoric that pits neighbors against each other. That twists the metal pulsing underneath our skin.
From the beginning I fell in love with the science fiction elements. Told from the perspectives of Ify and Onyii, the two main characters, War Girls is a story that examines these two girl’s lives. War Girls examines not only their experiences, but also their relationship, their sisterhood, and their love. Their lives, even while they are just individuals, play out across screens and distance. What is the truth in war? It isn’t as concrete as we think, malleable in warm hands and shadowed in the daylight.
Themes and Questions
War Girls will twist your heart. We are asked about the context of our actions. Seeing the war from both sides, are our actions truly so different? The nightmares that keep us awake at night, the screams and shadows that haunt our waking moments. Questions of ethics and technology are explored. Situations in which we are turned into weapons, not only the weaponization of children, but of their physical bodies. Cyborg bodies of bullets and blood.
Casualties turn into resentment, friends in enemy colors sprinting amongst a rain of bullet shells. Technology can be something magical and powerful, but also dangerous and unwanted. All the compromises, the deaths, the moral high ground, is it all worth it in the end? War is lived out in the skies and on our bodies. It can keep us from thinking about the consequences, the regrets, and the nightmares that will plague us after the ink has dried.
Shards of happiness in old wounds. Girls created in the fires of war, hardened, and melted into something different. War Girls is a roller coaster of emotions. Featuring a character struggling with PTSD, a f/f romance, and two girls cemented by betrayal and sisterhood, War Girls is a powerful book, but along with war comes our quest for peace. Where do we search for our own sense of peace when we cannot find it in the ruins around us. Are we able to recover from this? Chasing after a fleeting sense of wholeness? In the search of revenge and redemption?