American War

American War

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
13
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Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle -- a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

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, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war as one of the Miraculous Generation and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past -- his family's role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 2017.
ISBN: 9780771009396
Branch Call Number: FIC ElAkk
Characteristics: 333 pages : maps ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Uncomfortably timely, Omar El Akkad proposes a future America that descends into a second civil war. Grim and realistic, this is a read for those who like a challenge.

What happens to a divided America, where the states are no longer united? How does one family survive a civil war? This is a very thought-provoking novel.

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VaughanPLKelly May 16, 2017

An extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and engaging debut novel about a futuristic America ravaged by climate change and civil war. I couldn't put it down, despite the difficult topic.


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blue_cat_11505
Sep 23, 2017

I found this to be a generally pleasing read as well as an outstanding work of literature

AL_MARINA Sep 18, 2017

Lushly fleshed out, American War is an imagining of what could happen if our politically fractured present sparks a second Civil War. A dense, uncomfortable novel that immerses the reader in an alternate future America. Pairs well with Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here."

SCL_Justin Sep 06, 2017

American War does a good job of dealing with how conflict damages people, from refugee camps to soldiers to peacetime survivors. The civil war based on who will abandon the technologies that are destroying the planet is grimly believable, and the prison camp torture is even more real. I appreciated how the personal narrative is interspersed with the bigger picture historical documents that never overwhelm the story. Highly recommended.

SCL_Tricia Aug 21, 2017

A great cli-fi read. Unfortunately with recent world events it is easy to imagine this book being a crystal ball into the future of civil war in America. A book about war that focuses on the people that are trying to deal with the world that has ultimately been shaped by it. I enjoyed that the author did not pick one side or the other but focused on the realities for everyday people in this situation. A definite recommend.

AL_WENDY Jul 26, 2017

The plausibility of this book is incredible! From the well-drawn and authentic characters to the atmospheric setting to the disquieting circumstances--this book is riveting until the end!

h
heavenne
Jul 05, 2017

Great character development in Sarat as you follow her through her journey and choices she makes (though with outside influences making a huge impact on her decisions.) Set in a dystopia where resources are run dry, and climate change has drowned part of the Eastern states, it’s definitely not a light read but one to read slowly and to be carefully thought through. Definitely recommended.

c
CKW55
May 29, 2017

Compelling story that you want to read to the end, although a great deal of foreshadowing made the ending rather anticlimatic.
I take issue with the writing technique--reread the first paragraphs of Chapter 7 several times as the author writes "A faint evening rain fell ..." and how Sarat "...listened to the whispering rain" at the same time as "Through the window flap a soft line of silver moonlight illuminated her sleeping sister's face."
Needed a bit of editorial red pen?
Also, the three states chosen to be "fossil fuel" holdouts don't have significant fossil fuel reserves or refineries. So just how did they keep running? Science and technology meet reality.

l
lukasevansherman
May 18, 2017

"This isn't a story about war. It's about ruin."
Ignore the somewhat generic title, this is a provocative and impressive debut from Omar El Akkad, who was born in Egypt, worked in Canada, and now resides in Oregon. Akkad borrows a few tricks from the dystopian fiction playbook, but like most good dystopias, this is about the present, not the future. He imagines a future in which there's been a second Civil War and America is once again divided. It's a grim and violent world of ecological disaster, plagues, collapsed economies, assassinations, drone-darkened skies. More than any other novel I've read in recent years, it captures the dispirited and polarized zeitgeist. I'm not sure what it means that it took a non-American writer to write a book that is plugged into the moment. An early contender for my favorite book of 2017.

VaughanPLKelly May 16, 2017

An extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and engaging debut novel about a futuristic America ravaged by climate change and civil war. I couldn't put it down, despite the difficult topic.

m
mblummichaels
May 01, 2017

An incredible, horrible, wonderful, provocative book! Beautifully written and a huge meal, as in food for thought. I predict a literature prize in the offing.

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