Don’t be fooled into thinking that this book is about current politics or anything to do with the US’ relations with the Middle East. No, Omar El Akkad provides a look into what could be; the second American Civil War.

Sarat Chestnut’s life has been crumbling apart from the start. Amid an encroaching war, her childhood was interrupted by the death of her father, and her mother relocating the family to a refugee camp.

Safety eluded the Chestnuts still, as even the camp was not immune to the violence of the war. With every bullet and bomb, Sarat’s heart hardened, propelling her along a path of retribution and revenge, under the tutelage of those more seasoned in war.

While Sarat and her family acclimatise to her transition from young girl to rebel fighter, the war is shifting; there is no firm footing to be found and Sarat finds herself lost, no longer in control, and broken. Her redemption comes at a cost many will be unwilling to pay.

American War is a dystopian tale that reminds you of a few movies you’ve seen ringing the déjà vu bell, only it’s more elegant.

Sarat’s journey is more than a search for revenge, it is a portrayal of the schism of humanity; the breakdown of a person’s spirit, and the many ways we tear ourselves apart. El Akkad is a shadow puppeteer, pulling the strings in a dark tale to make the characters seem alive and tangible.
American War may superficially focus on the USA, but its message holds no geography, it is a call for humans everywhere to stay together and not divide themselves. A pertinent call in the present political climate.

Beautifully written and satisfyingly dark, American War is the ultimate ‘what if’, and needs to be read.

American War by Omar El Akkad (first published in 2017 by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan)