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Beasts of No Nation
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Beasts of No Nation

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  2,067 ratings  ·  341 reviews
In this stunning debut novel, Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. Haunted by his father's own death at the hands of militants, which he fled just before witnessing, Agu is vulnerable to the dangerous yet paternal nature of his new commander.

While the war rages on, Agu becomes i...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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Will Byrnes
This book is destined to be regarded as a classic. Village life in this unnamed West African country is disrupted when news comes of war. People who can, flee. Some remain, men willing to fight mostly. Unfortunately this includes young boys who are strong enough to hold a weapon. Our narrator is one. He is a bright boy, an eager and exceptional student who loves his time at school. His father is either killed or driven off and the boy is terrified into joining the roving militia that comes throu...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.5* of five

I gave my review a serious titivation and posted it to my blog...but if you've never read this book, go straight to the bookstore and buy it.

Stories like this are too true to tell in non-fiction. Stories like this are too hard to read when they're merely factual. But don't kid yourself, this is a reality and we here in the fat and happy West don't give it any thought.

Change that. Buy the book. Read the book.
Read it. Be appalled. - written in the unrelenting tense of now - the horror never ends.

The author's use of present tense works like an incantation, grasping you by the throat tightly, it makes you breathless in a hyperventilating kind of way, you cannot stop - only turn the page, trying to read faster if only to get to the end of it. There's no real repose from the untenable pace, the brutal array of death merely merges into other grotesqueries you'd rather not think about too much.

You can't he...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Those who have English as their only language find difficulty understanding it. That is maybe why in some reviews of this book they wail: what's this idea of having the narration here in a constant present tense? I don't think that was the author's idea, however. I've observed something like that first-hand. In my province, when even grade school or high school teachers are not at ease with English, you'd hear people trying to speak the language and end up doing what we call there the "Barok Eng...more
I don't want to slam this book, because the author seems like a nice guy. But that's the problem.

If you are writing about child soldiers in Africa, you cannot hold steadfast to the idea that people are inherently good and brutality is the product of innocence and circumstances.

Where authors like Golding and Selby explore the nature and limits of human violence, cruelty and brutality (three very different things), Iweala chooses to just tell us that war is bad.
Linda Lipko
This is a book that punches. It is not a book for the faint hearted. It is savagely horrific, harrowingly heartbreaking, violently visceral and chillingly claustrophobic.

With these terms, you might wonder why I rate it five stars. The answer is because it is a tale that needs to be told.

My life is comfortable, yet, I complain about the stress of my fast paced job, the dust that gathers on the floors because I have little time to clean, the meals I eat out because I am too tired to cook, and the...more
I read this book like it was medicine I had to take. I wanted to know more about this topic--child soldiers in Africa--but I found reading it so painful that I had to push myself to keep going. Maybe this was the intention of the author. I learned a lot, but I don't think this is a very well-written novel. What was Iweala trying to do by using only continuous tense? To show the grammar of the character's native language? To give the story a feeling of constant motion? To make the reader feel tha...more
This short book took a long time to read, my heart and mind could only handle short doses of the content - well-written, the horror of war is all too tangible.
Iweala is a Nigerian-American writer, very young (fresh from Harvard) who has crafted a very fine debut novel about a nameless African country brutalized by a civil war fought in no small part by children. The narrator is one such child-soldier. This was an impulse purchase while stuck waiting for a delayed flight in the Indianapolis airport. The novel is short, lyrical in a dark but childlike way, and totally compelling. Agu is discovered by another child soldier hiding in a torched town. He wi...more
To my fellow indie authors, I think we've been going about this traditional publication process all wrong. HarperCollins accepts short stream of consciousness manuscripts. By the way, don't worry about paying exorbitant amounts of money for a professional copy editor, because HarperCollins accept manuscripts with absolutely no regards for the rules of grammar or standard English. However, I think it's worth mentioning that it helps if your manuscript is narrated from the horrific and innocent ex...more
I found this book VERY compelling--I lingered in a subway station at 1am on a Saturday night after having gotten off my train just to finish the last 3 pages. It's powerful, certainly, but I have my gripes:

1.) What is with the bullshit deus ex machina ending? I admit I did wish that this book would end happily, but as the last page fast approached, I realized that this probably wasn't going to happen. And I kind of respected Iweala for that--one can't expect a neat happy ending to a story about...more
S. Nelson
A child whose innocence is lost forever. This gut wrenching story is inspired by real events that happens to a child named Agu when he is turned into a child soldier. Although I have dealt with heavy subjects in my writing, this book really disturbed me because this was about a child in horrible circumstances. It was so vivid that it brought out all kinds of emotions in me. Most times I felt sad but sometimes I was very angry with Agu and then I would remember that he is just a child. In the end...more
It's hard not to feel like a jerk when you dislike a book about child soldiers, rape and the atrocities of war. But I didn't like this book. And I'm kinda a jerk. Iweala's use of dialect/broken English is forced and illogical, and it consistently pulled me out and away, leaving me focusing on words rather than the story as a whole and reducing my ability to see the main character as a suffering human rather than a fictional construction. The climax seemed separate from the rest of the book in te...more
It's hard telling a story of something you only read about in the news but never came close to experiencing it, it's harder writing such a story and be able to make the story have so much impact on a reader.

It's a sad well told story from a perspective of a child solder who hardly knew English but knew he wanted to be a doctor or engineer some day...

In my book it ended differently...he became a doctor.

It may be hard to read at first, but bare in mind that it is told by a boy who only had a yea...more
I love the presentation of the character's voice in this one. It takes a little getting used to, but it managed to keep the character human and identifiable in the midst of the dehumanization all around him. It's really worth preserving, since I think his view makes the book. That, and the matter of fact delivery in the face of unimaginable yet all too factual horror. It's hard to imagine how something like this could be written without being manipulative or exploitative, but Iweala manages it w...more
Juan Rojas
It's hard to say I enjoyed this book. Beasts of No Nation tells a horrible and brutal story that really makes you think of how unfortunate a child can be. Agu, is a young child soldier caught in a civil war in an unnamed West African Country. Agu's journey from orphan to remorseless killer is not for the faint of heart. The book does not hold punches and often goes into descriptive detail of murders and rape.

At 142 pages the book is brief but powerful. I found it hard to put down especially in t...more
Beasts of No Nation

This is such a painful story about a young boy name Agu whose life was changed after gruiella soldiers raided the village where he lived with his family. Agu becomes a child soldier in order to save his life. Agu tells his story in a voice that is brutally honest about the pain that he feels being separated from his family, the bloody violence that he inflicts upon others that he has been taught to perceive as his enemies and the pain that he feels physically and emotionally...more
You could see this book as a brutal description of the life of a child soldier, or as the sweet pidgin English voice of a preadolescent boy fighting for his life. I read this book twice, once for myself and later to get ready for my book club. Both times I could hear the child's voice narrating as I read. It was truly amazing. It is very difficult to read the things that happen to the narrator, however, as almost everything bad that could happen to a child happens to him.
This book was very addicting. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down; I had to know what was going to happen next. It gave me some insight of how little life can be worth. The constant use of present tense made it hard to read in the beginning but once I started to understand it the book flowed a lot better and I started to understand the author's voice better. I like how Uzodinma Iweala keeps everything in present tense; it gives the book a little spice of something extra.
This book could have been pretty good, but it is written from the voice of someone who cannot speak English very well. I understand why the author might want to do this, since it is the story of a young African boy, but I don't think it's necessary... why would he be telling his story in English anyway? Why can't we just pretend he's speaking in his native tongue, and that it was translated? It was incredibly distracting, and I didn't finish.
This is a very, very good book. Uzodinma Iweala tells a story of a child soldier in an unnamed African country torn asunder by war. The reader first notices the language of the book. It is written in a kind of broken English to connote possibly a foreignness or lack of formal education of the protagonist, Agu. Such linguistic inventiveness often times stilts the reading flow of the story, but not for this book. The writing is very creative in its exoticism and ease to read. And this adaptation o...more
Rebekah ODell
I had a high level of anticipation about this one....and I was very seriously disappointed. I didn't think the plot stood up very well to his mode of storytelling. So, in reading it, it became more about HOW he was telling the story than the story he was telling. Still, this may be because I read "A Long Way Gone" first...and it was infinitely more powerful bieing nonfiction. Hm.
Despite its brevity, it took me a little while longer than expected to finish this ambitious first novel. That was due to difficulty of the subject matter, as the book is told from the perspective of a child soldier in a war torn nation. I felt that the author did an exceptional job of capturing Agu's voice and was able to convey the war's progression in a believable manner, even when the protagonist did not fully understand what was happening. While the story is set in west Africa, it is, sadly...more
This book does a great job of delving into the absolute horror of being a child soldier in a nameless African war. Because the use of child soldiers is an awful practice that merits greater awareness and sympathy for the victims, I appreciate the author stepping up to the plate with this novel. However, the manner in which the story is written - from the child's perspective, in this awkwardly jarring, constant present tense - propels the narrative more because it's irritating and distracting tha...more
Izarra Varela
Alternate title: A Supposedly Important Novel That I'll Never Read Again.

Any book about the horrors of children forced into war gets a nod for relevance. Iweala (a child genius, apparently) writes convincingly as a African boy who reluctantly joins a military movement against his own people. Told in broken English, and entirely in present tense, the narrative takes the reader through one atrocity after another; perhaps most tragic is the narrator's transformation from an innocent child to a cold...more
Too hard to tell what was going on. Was confused, bored, unengaged and irritated all the way through this book. Nothing good to say about it.
Not the worst book i've ever read though...
Lina Alam
The story wasn't all that jam-packed with insight and enlightenment and awesomeness
It was legit. I enjoyed the broken english, though I wouldn't have wanted to read much more of it.
And because the style was a sort of stream-of-consciousness-ish deal, some philosophical quandaries were evoked.
For instance, Agu, as a kidnapped child soldier, asks, "If I am doing all this good thing and now only doing what soldier is supposed to be doing, then how can I be bad boy?" This question truly exposes...more
Stephen Matlock
Beasts of No Nation

This is a sad, awful, tragic, depressing book of violence and terror as told through voice of Agu, a child-soldier of a West African nation consumed by violence and civil war--and I loved it even as I dreaded turning each page.

Agu has lived a life in a comfortable, simple African home with his mother, father, and sister. He is active in his church and his school, and one day to the next is predictable and safe.

Until one day the soldiers come and the civil war comes and violen...more
I don't know what to say. This book was heartbreaking and wonderfully painful. A first person fictionalized account of becoming and being a child soldier in West Africa is not something that I'd normally pick up but the book was given to me by a friend whose literary taste I share and it was indeed a moving story. I've seen that it's coming out as a movie. I don't know how anyone could watch the film even without reading the book. Just thinking of the life of a little boy who is forced into doin...more
Beasts of No Nation
Uzodinma Iweala
ISBN: 0-06-079868-8

Survival pushes you to make decisions that are not really the best decisions, when your country has given up on you or given up on their self. In Beasts of No Nation a civil war engulf a West African nation. Agu is a young boy who loves school, friends, family and Church, and he is trapped in the middle of the civil war. He lost his father during the war and his mother and sister left earlier with the UN. Agu is all alone and he saw peo...more
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