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Summary

Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria.

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.

Acclaimed author Tochi Onyebuchi has written an immersive, action-packed, deeply personal novel perfect for fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Marie Lu, and Paolo Bacigalupi.

©2019 Tochi Onyebuchi (P)2019 Listening Library

Critic reviews

"A brilliant novel about sisters, war, and freedom." (Booklist, starred review)

"Set amid the horrors of war in a world ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster, this heart-wrenching and complex page-turner, drawn from the 1960s Nigerian civil war, will leave readers stunned and awaiting the second installment." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"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." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about War Girls

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly boring

Everything about this screams that it should be great. The concept is great, the storyline is promising, the world-building is excellent... but it's just a huge snore-fest. Is it the narrator? She has a lovely voice, but she does phrase every sentence in exactly the same way. Or maybe it's the characterisation. The two sisters at the heart of the story are reasonably well fleshed out, but everyone else is a cardboard cut-out, so when 'dramatic' events were happening, I didn't care about any of them. I was really glad when this was over.

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This book is amazing. Don't miss it.

The publisher blurb says this is "Black Panther inspired" but apart from its African setting I just don't see it. It's more like an African William Gibson novel.... but better. It's a future-set cyberpunk sci-fi take on the Biafra-Nigeria war, and on one level it's an insanely exciting actioner, with the kind of tech you'd find in an anime rather than a standard war novel (even a sci-fi one). Yet despite that, it has every bit as much nuance as novels like Half of a Yellow Sun. It's characters - all recruited into war as children - find themselves on opposite sides. All are bitterly opposed and filled with unforgiving and evidently justified mutual hatred, and all have committed unforgivable atrocities, but you can't but love them all. It's rarely made explicit how they are being used and lied to, or by whom, but the dread at their commitment to evident propaganda is a thread that runs underneath it all. So is their commitment to each other, their deep love and dedication. I found myself so committed to these characters that at times I just had to stop listening in order to let the feelings subside. It's tragic and beautiful and powerful and just... just get it, ok? The performance is mostly excellent too - I'll be looking for other books by this reader.

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  • G. Lee
  • 10-12-19

More world building than character development..

This story seems a prequel to a very interesting world, as seen through the eyes of 2 main characters...but the characters are simple and the plot is as well. But the descriptions of the action, the environment and the concept of a future Biafra is very interesting. I would wait until the entire series is out...then start as Wargirls kind of left me saying "Wow what a pretty sandbox you created...when are you going to do something in it?"

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mehmed Mitchel-EL
  • 16-06-20

The Mecha Story Set In Africa I've Always Craved

As an avid fan of Mecha anime and Cyberpunk stories this was a read that brought to life the very things I used to day dream about as a child. It's not a story that has characters of African descent plastered in it to add a flare of diversity. It is a whole world built drawing on the mythologies, religions, traditions, and cultures of Africa. All beautifully interwoven into a cyberpunk dystooia set on the African west coast, with cyborgs, hackers, and jet boosted, laser toting, sword wielding mechs.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lise Afoy
  • 02-11-19

Gripping!

Don't think it's a work of fiction. Millions have died. Do your own research. Fantastic rendition of what a nation endured. Thank you Tochi for opening my eyes.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sidney Chatman
  • 16-12-19

War Girls OMG

This book was amazing, I couldn’t stop listening to it, imagining how all of the fight scenes would be choreographed, to trying to envision how all of the characters would look from the descriptions given to me! I would love to see this on a screen rather it be a movie or a anime type of film!

4 people found this helpful

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  • podakayne
  • 20-12-20

outstanding and relevant

great story referencing an actual conflict. I liked the author's note at the end. made me see the story a bit differently. as an American living when this conflict was in progress I must admit to my ignorance of the conflict...though I was a child myself. a great read well worth rereading and hearing again

2 people found this helpful

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  • linda crawford
  • 23-06-20

The hurt is real.

Nothing in this book is straight forward. Everything is challenging. It HURTS!
This book NEEDS to be read!

2 people found this helpful

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  • B.
  • 10-03-20

War is Hell

This is one of the best stories that I've ever listened to. This story was filled with love, revenge, deceit, forgiveness, and violence. This was a very creatively written story about how war can destroy a family and a country. How ties are made and broken and how warriors must adjust to those who need them yet look upon them with distrust and misunderstanding. Excellent Book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Matt Orienter
  • 10-09-20

Excellent Performance of Interesting Material

The performance here was top-notch. The reader balanced the detachment of a narrator with the perfect quantity of emotion. The story and setting were well-envisioned, and I definitely learned a lot about the 20th and 21st centuries, both implicitly in the text and in the afterward. There were some neat little steampunk pieces and other innovations in this decidedly soft-SF universe.

Without giving too much away, the denouement was overlong, as if the author wanted to stay with the characters for as long as possible. I certainly understand that emotion, but the reason for many of the final chapters treats them worse than if the band-aid had come off more quickly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Olivia Wylie
  • 18-04-21

Tomorrow’s technology with yesterday’s battlescars

In a lushly tactile future Africa that feels as if it jumps off the page, Onyebuchi has created a world that’s both so close you can touch it and a place outside our understanding of what a nice, normal life. In this work, Onyebuchi has imagined what it could look like if the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War) of 1967 flared up again in the future. There are new weapons and new dangers—irradiated land and the animals that have mutated in that vicious radiation—but there are still the same old animosities, the same viciousness that only closely related groups can have when they turn on one another, and the same wounds on every side. Into this work the author has woven tomorrow’s technology with yesterday’s battle-scars, creating a painfully realized world where there are battle-mechs, but there are also child soldiers carrying guns as big as they are. (side note, mecha-anime fans, strap in for an African twist on the genre at its best)
The story revolves around a band of sisters; war-girls, the young women born into and brought up in conflict. All they know is the war, and the hope that one day they will proudly call themselves Biafran.

The tale centers most closely on elder sister Onyii and younger sister Ify, but around them are their band, their history, their hopes, and the blood on their hands. The world they are born into is not kind, and it will twist and bend them nearly to breaking point again and again, along with everyone around them. So many people in this story make all the wrong choices, but the art of the author is in leading you to the same headspace as the character, that place where the unbelievable becomes the only option. Terrible choices are made on all sides, with terrible costs. But in writing these sisters and their stubborn refusal to give in to circumstance, the author showcases the sheer, stubborn strength of the human soul. It is our ability to sit in the darkest night and say ‘fine, I’ll be patient’ that shines in this work.
For African readers, it is a bittersweet dive into the blended past and possibilities. For Western readers, it’s a wonderful chance to see a culture through its own eyes, in a story not written for our gaze or with our sensibilities in mind. We need more of this to help us learn, and I personally learn best through connecting with people’s lived experience in story, so this was an amazing bonus for me in the work.

It is a heartbreakingly realized world, full of people that are neither wrong nor right, human nor machine. And every one of them is touched by warfare.

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  • Jodi Aina
  • 05-04-21

A great read

A perfect mix of fiction and non- fiction. I loved the book and was eager to get to the end, but not really. I'm really loving this author as well.