Fiction, January 2020

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi. October 15, 2019. Razorbill, 450 p. ISBN: 9780451481672.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

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.

Part of Series: War Girls (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Violence


Video Review


Booklist starred (August 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. In a futuristic Nigeria torn asunder by civil war, catastrophic battles are fought using soldiers augmented with bionic limbs and artificial organs. Sisters Onyii and Ify find themselves on opposite sides of the war. Eldest sister Onyii is the practical one. She’s a caregiver and leader who will stop at nothing to see Ify have a better life. However, Ify doesn’t necessarily like being coddled. When a years-long civil war rips the sisters apart, they will do anything to fight their way back to each other. Onyebuchi (Beasts Made of Night, 2017) uses a sf setting to explore very heavy, real-world issues, like climate change, nuclear disasters, and child soldiers. Onyii and Ify both face horrors as children of war and live with the traumas induced by being exposed to such violence at a tender age. The story also explores bioaugmentation and what it means to be human while asking whether we should use a technology just because we have it. Onyebuchi makes up for the sluggish narrative start with his staggering, imaginative world, which immediately draws readers in and effortlessly makes them feel and root for its characters. This brilliant novel about sisters, war, and freedom should be in every sf collection.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2019)
In a world ravaged by nuclear war, climate change, and resource conflict, two sisters dare to dream of peace. In his novel based on the Nigerian civil war and wars decades later in other parts of the African continent involving child soldiers, Onyebuchi (Crown of Thunder, 2018, etc.) creates a richly detailed, post-apocalyptic Nigeria. Onyii, who comes to be known as the Demon of Biafra, has been caught in the thick of the war between the Biafrans and Nigerians over mining rights for Chukwu, a precious mineral. She has even become an Augment, one of those who have replaced missing limbs and organs with mechanical ones. Ify, Onyii’s sister, is ingenious and resourceful: Having been bullied for her lighter skin by the other girls in the Biafran war camp, she finds solace in exploring the world via her Accent, technology she created that grants her powers of perception and communication. When the Nigerians attack, Ify is kidnapped and the camp left in ruins. Believing her sister to be dead, Onyii agrees to fight for the Republic of Biafra. Meanwhile, Ify is discovering much about her true lineage. 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. (author’s note) (Science fiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

Tochi Onyebuchi holds a B.A. from Yale, an MFA in Screenwriting from Tisch, a Masters degree in Global Economic Law from L’institut d’études politiques, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s and Ideomancer, among other places. Tochi resides in Connecticut where he works in the tech industry.

His website is

Teacher Resources

War Girls on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

War Girls on Amazon

War Girls on Barnes and Noble

War Girls on Goodreads

War Girls on LibraryThing

War Girls Publisher Page

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