The decline of America divided into factions fighting against one another. It’s happened once before, centuries ago, and the realities and aftermath of a second civil war in America is depicted within the haunting pages of Omar El Akkad’s American War.
The Second American Civil War is a decades long fight between the northerners and southerners, displacing many families into various camps. Following the war through the experiences of Sarat Chestnut, starting when she’s six years old into her thirties, when the war is finally reaching its end, the brutal realities of a country fighting itself come to light. As Sarat’s family slowly loses members, first her father, then her mother, her twin sister, and finally her brother, Sarat’s reasons to fight in the war shift until she’s offered an opportunity to change everything, once and for all.
Set in a near-future where part of the East Coast has been consumed by a rising sea level and fighting and mistrust runs rampant through the people of America, the reality presented in these pages was eerily plausible in light of America’s history and its current political climate/position in the world. Sarat is a strong and well-developed character, who serves the role of central figure well as her nephew recalls her story after discovering the diaries she left for him. The narrative of this future America is well thought out with a developed world to call upon, but there were portions of the story that moved slowly where attention could wane; however, the novel provokes further thought and introspection, with a power to stick with you long after you finish reading its pages.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.