February 18, 2014

Iweala Uzodinma's Beasts of No Nation:

                The main character of this book, is Agu, a child soldier.  In a first person narrative he tells of his recruitment as a soldier and the abuses he gives and the abuses he suffers.  It is well written, but the plot falls into one of those one-darn-thing-after-another traps.  There is no hope for anything better, and the reader is as trapped as Agu.  

                One thing that is interesting to me though, and something I might drop in a class is how authenticity plays a role in the reader’s enjoyment of the book.  I got to a point about half-way through where I was curious how much of this is grounded in truth, and I then looked up the author’s biography.  I felt a little betrayed knowing that he had not been a child soldier, and I started enjoying the book less.  I don’t know what that says about me as a reader, or about this book as a text, but it did make me think of how much more impact a “True” story has.  So even though this is “true” in general, and I’m sure Iweala did his homework, I feel my experience of the book is compromised.  You may not have that.