Told from the perspective of a young boy (Agu) coerced into militancy by an indiscriminately violent civil war that overtakes his never-named African country, Beasts of No Nation is far more than just a treatise on the far-reaching effects of war. Iweala manages a strikingly believable voice for Agu, which makes the brutality of the upheaval he's experiencing that much more poignant. In a span of less than 20 pages, we're shifted from Agu's small primary-school classroom (in which he boasts of how gifted he is) to a guerrilla march (in which he's mortally terrified). The constancy of Agu's point of view in constantly shifting circumstances helps turn Beasts into an elegant (and haunting) example of storytelling done right.
Beasts of No Nation
By Uzodinma Iweala
(HarperCollins, 142 pages)
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