AmER­I­CAN WAR

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 333 pages | Hard­back/ebook

Au­thor Omar el akkad Pub­lisher Pi­cador

sarat Ch­est­nut is just a child when the Sec­ond Amer­i­can Civil War breaks out af­ter four South­ern States refuse to quell their re­liance on fos­sil fu­els. Dis­placed by the fight­ing to a refugee camp, Sarat at­tracts the at­ten­tion of a re­cruiter for the rebel cause, in the process set­ting in mo­tion a chain of events that will bring ruin upon what’s left of her coun­try.

Set in the near fu­ture, Amer­i­can War is a study of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion that tips our world up­side down. The Free South­ern States that Sarat calls home rely on aid ship­ments from China and the Mid­dle East, while a US pres­i­dent is killed by a do­mes­tic-born “homi­cide bomber”.

Omar El Akkad’s top­i­cally minded tale deals with climate change, drone war­fare, a refugee cri­sis and the use of tor­ture. There’s satire in his premise of the US go­ing to war with it­self over oil, but no room for hu­mour or lev­ity. It’s a dark and of­ten bru­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, as Sarat be­comes scarred, first psy­cho­log­i­cally and then phys­i­cally, by the vi­o­lence that en­gulfs her life. The tor­ture se­quence is par­tic­u­larly un­set­tling, and the novel is al­most un­re­lent­ingly grim, a cat­a­logue of the hor­rors in­flicted by war.

El Akkad’s portrait of the fu­ture proves to be com­pelling, but Sarat’s jour­ney to­wards an­ni­hi­la­tion is ul­ti­mately an emo­tion­ally drain­ing one. David West

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