Monday, May 22, 2017

American War

by Omar El Akkad

"Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike."


This book. This book hurt. This book was one of my Book of the Month choices for the month of May, and though I'm happy I chose this book, I still find myself wondering, "Why did I do this to myself?"

Let's start with the good. The writing is beautiful. Akkad transitions seamlessly from one character to the next, from one scene to the next, from one year to the next. Never did I feel lost about who was speaking, where they were located, or what side they were on.

Character development - also brilliant. We meet Sarat when she is just a child, living in southern Louisiana -- purple country -- in this novel. She's tenacious, curious, and bright. Akkad sets Sarat up with a personality, and then allows the tornado of her life to envelop her, toss her back and forth, and then spit her out -- a warped, damaged, and bent version of her former self.

Now, for the bad. This novel is terrifying. Terrifying. It begins in the dystopian United States in the year of 2074. The North (blue country), is at civil war with the South (red country). The South, deciding they don't appreciate the new bill introducing a ban on fossil fuels, attempts to secede. There's a war. There are acts of terrorism. There are rebel armies. There is a refugee camp in Alabama. South Carolina is completely quarantined (walls that reach the sky surround the entire state, with snipers sitting in towers making sure no one attempts to leave) after a bio-hazard wipes out the population. Mexico now owns half of California. The Middle East is an empire spanning half the globe.

I'm not even giving anything away; this is all told to the reader within the first five pages.

And, I can picture all of this happening. 

I'm knocking off one star, only because there were points of the book that struggled to hold my attention.

When I finished the book, I thought "Phew. Glad that's over. Glad that isn't real." At least -- it's not real for now.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Buy this book here.

Up Next and Coming Soon: Since We Fell


  1. This was a BOTM book I wish I had picked so much that I went out and bought it from a bookstore. I felt it was a 5⭐️ read. You made excellent points. Overall, we felt the same. (Shocker!) But seriously, what a gut punch!!

    1. Right?! It really was a gut-punch; too real!!