American War by Omar El Akkad
A novel

74%

9 Critic Reviews

American War is Omar El Akkad's first novel and it is masterful. Both the story and the writing are lucid, succinct, powerful and persuasive.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

“Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.
 

About Omar El Akkad

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OMAR EL AKKAD was born in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in Doha, Qatar until he moved to Canada with his family. He is an award-winning journalist and author who has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, the military trials at Guantànamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Author Residence: Portland, Oregon
 
Published April 4, 2017 by Knopf. 352 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, War, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for American War
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Jake Bible on Apr 16 2017

American War: A Novel is not a bad novel, and many readers may like it, but in the end its flaws overpower any of its strengths.

Read Full Review of American War: A novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Richard Marcus on Apr 03 2017

Akkad is a masterful storyteller and American War is one of the most compelling books you’ll read this year. It will explain what’s going on in the world a whole lot more honestly and clearly than any news cast or politician.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Mark Athitakis on Apr 07 2017

The twist in Omar El Akkad’s savvy debut novel, “American War,” is that the present is especially present...Better, El Akkad clears plenty of space for human-scale storytelling amid the geopolitical scaffolding.

Read Full Review of American War: A novel | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Lawrence Hill on Mar 31 2017

American War is Omar El Akkad's first novel and it is masterful. Both the story and the writing are lucid, succinct, powerful and persuasive.

Read Full Review of American War: A novel | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jeff VanderMeer on Mar 30 2017

Despite these flaws — which may register to some readers as quibbles — “American War” is a worthy first novel, thought-provoking, earnest and mostly well-wrought.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Justin Cronin on Apr 20 2017

...“American War” is a deeply unsettling novel. The only comfort the story offers is that it’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Zane Schwartz on Apr 21 2017

It’s a poignant and artfully crafted dystopia: more Cormac McCarthy than Suzanne Collins...But this actually speaks to one of the strengths of the book, which is how many of the things aren’t future problems, they are problems that exist today...

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Terra Arnone on Apr 11 2017

If anyone were fit to write a world of war, terror, climactic demise and deadly biological weaponry, it’d make sense for that individual to be Omar El Akkad. He’s observed and recounted tragedy around the globe – from Middle America to urban battlegrounds a few oceans eastward – and written about those experiences extensively...

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Alex Good on Apr 02 2017

This is not a comforting political message for Americans, whose homeland has largely remained free of the chaos and bloodshed experienced by other nations in the modern age. But comfort is exactly what El Akkad is writing against.

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Reader Rating for American War
87%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 14 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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