American War

Omar El Akkad. Knopf, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-49358-3
El Akkad’s debut novel transports us to a terrifyingly plausible future in which the clash between red states and blue has become deadly and the president has been murdered over a contentious fossil fuels bill. In 2074, Sarah T. Chestnut—called Sarat—comes of age in the neutral state of Louisiana, where she is slowly drawn into the conflict after the death of her father, performing guerrilla operations for the South. Soon she is enmeshed in a resistance movement masterminded by the Dixie militants operating along the Tennessee River, venturing into quarantined South Carolina battlegrounds and Georgia shantytowns alongside spies, assassins, and revolutionaries, like the commanding Adam Bragg and his Salt Lake Boys. Sarat finds brief happiness with Layla, a displaced bar owner from Valdosta, Georgia, but this is only the beginning of Sarat’s war, as she is interred in the nightmarish Camp Saturday before being exiled in the wake of a devastating plague. Now an old and broken woman, Sarat must seek redemption in the wreckage of the New World. Part family chronicle, part apocalyptic fable, American War is a vivid narrative of a country collapsing in on itself, where political loyalties hardly matter given the ferocity of both sides and the unrelenting violence that swallows whole bloodlines and erodes any capacity for mercy or reason. This is a very dark read; El Akkad creates a world all too familiar in its grisly realism. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Release date: 04/04/2017
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-1-5247-7985-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-7979-5
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-7710-0939-6
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-101-97313-4
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