American War: A Novel by Omar El Akkad
Climate change has redefined borders across the planet and, in the wake of losing the coast line and massive internal displacement, America finds itself once again in a civil war between the north and south. Led by the Free Southern State with a growing, more violent, army of young rebels, the south secedes when fossil fuels are banned. The second civil war follows with a bloody push for reunification. Sarat Chestnut is a girl, growing up on the banks of Louisiana near what used to be New Orleans with her family. Over the course of the novel and the accumulation of personal horrors, a refugee crisis, and atrocities committed on both sides she is recruited by an extremist group and twisted into a weapon.
With an incredible, excruciatingly relatable cast of characters El Akkad paints a frightening picture of a future that requires little suspension of belief. It is a rippling, living, feeling novel that is at once beautiful and awful. It is not unremittingly depressing–there is much love, victory, friendship, and intimacy amongst the characters. In spite of its subject matter, it still holds hope and happiness. Highly recommended.