Book Review: War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi (ARC)

War Girls

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Publication Date: 15 October 2019

Genre: YA – Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Pages: 464

Publisher: Razorbill

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.

It took every fiber in my being not to yell ‘Wakanda Forever’ while reading this book. When a book is toted a Black Panther inspired Nigeria, I just can’t help myself. Black Panther is one of my all-time favorite movies.

War Girls has a futuristic setting with the inspiration for the plot is being pulled from the savage civil war that was waged in Nigeria during the 1960s. That being said, you don’t need to be well versed or even have prior knowledge of this war to appreciate this beautifully spun tale by Onyebuchi.

This story follows Onyii and Ify, two sisters living in a refugee camp for girls who managed to escape the clutches of the brutal war, which has left a wake of nuclear destruction, famine, an political unrest in its wake. In this camp the girls are self sufficient. In addition to maintaining their studies they also train in weapons handling and combat. Most of the girls have augments; nanotechnology infused limbs or organs. Everything changes when the camp is raided, and Onyii and Ify are captured and separated. They now must face their new lives and roles on opposing sides of the war.

Onyii and Ify were both fierce and independent characters that I could get behind. Onyii has been a child soldier for most of her life. She became an expert marksman when guns were bigger than her. Equipped with a mechanistic arm that is infused with advanced nanotechnology, she’s a force to be reckoned with. Ify may not be the killing epert that Onyii is, but her technological abilities allows her to control entire data networks, which means she gains access to everyone’s secrets and can bring down entire systems.

As someone who absolutely loved Black Panther, it was easy to imagine this futuristic world that these girls lived in from the mechanistic limbs and flying suits to Ify’s kimono beads that allowed her to tap into intricate networks. I loved every single second. I cannot wait to see what the rest of this trilogy has to offer.

Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing an ARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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