We all must have watched or probably heard about the movie with this title which was released sometime last year. I remember when the movie was first premiered, I wasn’t quite interested in it back then, but when I came across the book last week (thanks to @TheReadClub on twitter) I made a mental note to watch the movie once I’m done with the book.
Beasts Of No Nation, written by Uzodinma Iweala was published in 2005. It is short story written in first person narrative. It tells the tale of a child soldier in an African country who happened to be a victim of circumstances. The first thing I noticed was the manner in which the narrator tells the story. He tells it using present continuous tense all the time.
We will always be fighting war, but sometimes it is nice to be thinking that there is something else for our future.
The books starts with Agu, the narrator being found by a child soldier, Strika (who he later became friends with) and forced to join a group of soldiers led by the Commandant. Agu was a victim (like every other person) of the war which happened in his country. He was a boy who loved to read and was nicknamed Professor by his mother. He had a close-knit family with his father being a teacher. When the war started, his mother and sister together with every other female in town were made to leave with the UN officials leaving the men and boys behind. Along the line, his father was killed while Agu ran for his life and was later found by Strika.
The first trauma Agu faced when he joined the badly-formed army occurred when he was forced to kill an innocent man (who was labelled as an enemy) by the Commandant with a machete. This was the beginning of his innocence being stripped off him. Not only did he turn into a killer and a drug user, he was also sexually molested by the Commandant series of time. This went on for a long time and occasionally, Agu would think about his family and his future. During one of their visit to a brothel, the Commandant’s deputy was stabbed by a prostitute and he died after 3 days. This made Agu feel bad but not as bad as he felt when Strika (his only friend) eventually died. Things got so bad that they began to lack food supplies and other things. Soldiers were dying and things were getting worse. Eventually, one of the soldiers out of frustration killed the Commandant. Starved, tried and frustrated, the remaining soldiers started the long walk to finding home. During the way, Agu couldn’t take it no longer and left the soldiers.
He is later taken into a missionary care center being handled by a reverend and a white woman, Amy. The book ends with Agu trying to narrate the terrible things he had done during the bloody war.
For me, this book was a sad book, I must say. Certain paragraphs sent chills down my spine and I just could not begin to imagine all that a young boy had to go through in the name of a war. I watched the movie immediately after reading and noticed that certain changes were made such as the way the Commandant ended and the presence of Agu’s brother. Nevertheless, both the book and movie were very good.
I give this book 8/10.
~”I am not liking to be sad because being sad is what happens to you before you are becoming mad”-Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts Of No Nation~