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War Girls  By  cover art

War Girls

By: Tochi Onyebuchi
Narrated by: Adepero Oduye
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Publisher's summary

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.

©2019 Tochi Onyebuchi (P)2019 Listening Library

Critic reviews

"A brilliant novel about sisters, war, and freedom." (Booklist, starred review)

"Set amid the horrors of war in a world ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster, this heart-wrenching and complex page-turner, drawn from the 1960s Nigerian civil war, will leave readers stunned and awaiting the second installment." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"The intense plot is narrated in alternating third-person perspectives, and the author explores themes surrounding colonization, family, and the injustices of war. The story culminates in an unexpected, heart-wrenching end. An exhilarating series opener." (Kirkus Reviews)

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What listeners say about War Girls

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    5 out of 5 stars

The Mecha Story Set In Africa I've Always Craved

As an avid fan of Mecha anime and Cyberpunk stories this was a read that brought to life the very things I used to day dream about as a child. It's not a story that has characters of African descent plastered in it to add a flare of diversity. It is a whole world built drawing on the mythologies, religions, traditions, and cultures of Africa. All beautifully interwoven into a cyberpunk dystooia set on the African west coast, with cyborgs, hackers, and jet boosted, laser toting, sword wielding mechs.

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16 people found this helpful

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More world building than character development..

This story seems a prequel to a very interesting world, as seen through the eyes of 2 main characters...but the characters are simple and the plot is as well. But the descriptions of the action, the environment and the concept of a future Biafra is very interesting. I would wait until the entire series is out...then start as Wargirls kind of left me saying "Wow what a pretty sandbox you created...when are you going to do something in it?"

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15 people found this helpful

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Tomorrow’s technology with yesterday’s battlescars

In a lushly tactile future Africa that feels as if it jumps off the page, Onyebuchi has created a world that’s both so close you can touch it and a place outside our understanding of what a nice, normal life. In this work, Onyebuchi has imagined what it could look like if the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War) of 1967 flared up again in the future. There are new weapons and new dangers—irradiated land and the animals that have mutated in that vicious radiation—but there are still the same old animosities, the same viciousness that only closely related groups can have when they turn on one another, and the same wounds on every side. Into this work the author has woven tomorrow’s technology with yesterday’s battle-scars, creating a painfully realized world where there are battle-mechs, but there are also child soldiers carrying guns as big as they are. (side note, mecha-anime fans, strap in for an African twist on the genre at its best)
The story revolves around a band of sisters; war-girls, the young women born into and brought up in conflict. All they know is the war, and the hope that one day they will proudly call themselves Biafran.

The tale centers most closely on elder sister Onyii and younger sister Ify, but around them are their band, their history, their hopes, and the blood on their hands. The world they are born into is not kind, and it will twist and bend them nearly to breaking point again and again, along with everyone around them. So many people in this story make all the wrong choices, but the art of the author is in leading you to the same headspace as the character, that place where the unbelievable becomes the only option. Terrible choices are made on all sides, with terrible costs. But in writing these sisters and their stubborn refusal to give in to circumstance, the author showcases the sheer, stubborn strength of the human soul. It is our ability to sit in the darkest night and say ‘fine, I’ll be patient’ that shines in this work.
For African readers, it is a bittersweet dive into the blended past and possibilities. For Western readers, it’s a wonderful chance to see a culture through its own eyes, in a story not written for our gaze or with our sensibilities in mind. We need more of this to help us learn, and I personally learn best through connecting with people’s lived experience in story, so this was an amazing bonus for me in the work.

It is a heartbreakingly realized world, full of people that are neither wrong nor right, human nor machine. And every one of them is touched by warfare.

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6 people found this helpful

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War Girls OMG

This book was amazing, I couldn’t stop listening to it, imagining how all of the fight scenes would be choreographed, to trying to envision how all of the characters would look from the descriptions given to me! I would love to see this on a screen rather it be a movie or a anime type of film!

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Gripping!

Don't think it's a work of fiction. Millions have died. Do your own research. Fantastic rendition of what a nation endured. Thank you Tochi for opening my eyes.

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The hurt is real.

Nothing in this book is straight forward. Everything is challenging. It HURTS!
This book NEEDS to be read!

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4 people found this helpful

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outstanding and relevant

great story referencing an actual conflict. I liked the author's note at the end. made me see the story a bit differently. as an American living when this conflict was in progress I must admit to my ignorance of the conflict...though I was a child myself. a great read well worth rereading and hearing again

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2 people found this helpful

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  • B.
  • 03-10-20

War is Hell

This is one of the best stories that I've ever listened to. This story was filled with love, revenge, deceit, forgiveness, and violence. This was a very creatively written story about how war can destroy a family and a country. How ties are made and broken and how warriors must adjust to those who need them yet look upon them with distrust and misunderstanding. Excellent Book.

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Reading it backwards made it better ⏪

If you just want to read my review, then scroll down ⬇️. But I’m going to go off on a small tangent here first, because I feel like I should explain myself:

So as previously mentioned, I read this book backwards (literally). I started at the end and read each chapter in reverse order 🤪 (don’t judge me, I had my reasons). Admittedly, this was an experiment. Partially because I was just curious. Primarily because of the way I read, I often find myself rereading previous portions in order to fully understand what I just read. But also, I find that I enjoy books more when I know where they’re going. Not necessarily knowing the ending, but the comfort in knowing that things are happening for a reason, that it’s leading to something, and the writing isn’t just aimless (cough ACOTAR cough).

And honestly, I think I liked it better. If I had read it normally I’d probably be criticizing this book as another unoriginal YA novel trying too hard to be original. In my experience, YA novels are incredibly boring early on. But by starting at the end, all the good parts happened at the “beginning”, and did a much better job of holding my attention “later” in the book. On top of that, it was rather interesting to jump right into the action, and then work backwards to see how they got there (like my own little version of Momento).

*Review*
So yes, this is yet another YA novel riding the coattails of Black Panther. But what I like is that War Girls doesn’t try to hide it, and instead was its intention all along. Between its characters, setting, and advanced technology, War Girls knows that it’s basically copying Black Panther, but to a point were it’s more of an homage than a rip-off.

EXCERPT:
"She can’t waver now. Not when everything that has happened has finally caught up to her. The murder of her family, her life with the Biafran War Girls, her kidnapping, her time with the Nigerians overseeing the separation of families and the detention of children dubbed “enemy combatants,” her time in prison when she had lived as an accused traitor, her attempted assassination of the person who slaughtered her family. All of it has been leading to this moment."

(Going back to reading it backwards, this segment gave me quite a bit to look “forward” to.)

Just like any other YA fantasy, War Girls is slow in the beginning, predictable in the end, and mediocre as a whole. There’s no x-factor or wow-factor here, and nothing that hasn’t already been done before to make it standout in an already over-saturated genre.

But where I will give it credit is, in comparison to other YA fantasy, War Girls is pretty nonstop. As mentioned in the excerpt, lot happens throughout the story, and they come almost one after another with little downtime in-between. It does a good job of keeping you on edge, but once you get about halfway through is when things really get interesting. Alliances are made and broken, scenes of mass destruction, body augmentation, hover bike chases, and if anything, War Girls offers a unique perspective on futuristic terrorism.

Typically, I don’t recommend reading a book backwards, but I was really curious. I knew what kind of book this was, and knew I wouldn’t have liked normally. It worked out pretty well, but I doubt I’ll be doing it again (except for maybe the sequel, just because 😉).

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I wish I'd read this in school.

Great story-telling, incredible story to tell. So much talent, but I learned a lot about the civil war in Nigeria/Biafra. I had no idea. This book is a good way to get someone curious.

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