I’ve had a “second Civil War” novel brewing in my imagination for several years, so when a blogger I follow wrote a post about American War, I decided to read it.
Here’s the premise of the story. Later this century, following catastrophic global warming and rises in sea level, the U.S. bans the use of fossil fuels. A group of southern states disagrees with the policy and succeeds from the union. After some violence from both sides, America’s second civil war ensues. There’s obviously a lot more to the story than that, but for the purposes of this post it’s enough for us to move forward with.
When I first heard about the book, I thought it would probably tell the war’s story at a macro level, with a lot of strategy, flow of battle, etc. Instead, the story occurs at the micro level, the story of a girl (6 years old at the start of the story) who loses almost everything because of the war, and what those loses cause her to become.
In a way, American War could be thought of as a variation on Gone With The Wind. It follows the affects of the war on a strong female protagonist over multiple decades. It provides a stark outlook on what happens when a technologically advanced country turns its military might against its own citizens.
I gave American War four stars on Goodreads. It is well-written and thought-provoking, but didn’t quite grab me enough to earn the fifth star. I recommend it to all readers of adult speculative fiction.