War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

Earth in the 22nd century is a place of environmental disaster… a place of stagnant radiation and  fighting over the last remnants of healthy land. Nigeria’s civil war has been raging on for years and years. Caught on opposite sides are two young women, Onnyii and Ify… On the rebel Biafran side, Onnyii is a master of piloting the high caliber mech suits that are used to fight the various frays. Once captured and brought up in a Biafran camp, Ify is now a part of the Nigerian government’s war effort. Her knowledge of advanced tech helps them in all ways of intelligence and strategy.

War Girls is a book crossed with themes of loyalty, history, and entitlement. Ripped from each other and the mentor-mentee relationship they had had, Onnyi and Ify spend the bulk of the narrative on either side of the conflict. Each cherishing the memories of their relationship, but understanding the goals of their designated faction. Yet, there are underlying manipulations on the part of the Nigerian government that have to be exposed. These politics will become vital as the plot rises in the second half of the book…

Yes, there are many tips of the cap to Black Panther in this one… most prominently being the tech and the African setting. The wearable protections, the augmentations, and Ify’s deep-diving device that is able to tap into all electronic nets around her. I thought this was one of the strengths of the worldbuilding. The other was the laying out of the two sides. The scavenging rebels vs the hypocritical government agents.

There was a lot of shifting of the timeline and the short chapters were both good and bad. I felt that they shifted the focus too quickly from one character to the other at times, but the reader is able to keep up with what is happening. The cuts do add to the quick pacing.

Two other things I liked: the fight scenes were action-packed and the two character’s internal conflicts are drawn well. I felt side-by-side with these passionate young women. Their struggles were real, tangible, and transparent for me as a reader.

A strong young adult scifi story that pits one side against the other in a war for independence and familial bonds.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Edelweiss, Razorbill Publishing, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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