Fucking hell. Not an easy read, this. Harrowing, frequently appalling, and just downright distressing, but then given it’s about a child soldier press-ganged into conflict in an unnamed African country those are exactly all the things it should be.
The subsequent atrocities Agu inflicts (and has inflicted upon him; the Commandant’s troop also doubles as a personal harem of catamites) are all narrated in a patios that emphasizes the dissonance between the horrific events and the still childish viewpoint of those who perpetrate them:
He is taking my hand and bringing it down so hard on top of the enemy’s head and I am feeling like electricity is running through my whole body. The man is screaming, AYEEIII, louder than the sound of bullet whilstling and then he is bringing his hand to his head, but it is not helping because his head is cracking and the blood is spilling out like milk from a coconut. I am hearing laughing all around me even as I am watching him trying to hold his head together. He is annoying me and I am bringing the machete up and down and up and down hearing KPWUDA KPWUDA every time and seeing just pink while I am hearing the laughing KEHI, KEHI, KEHI, all around me.
And I think I’m going to leave this post there, and let that paragraph carry it. I’ve been trying to write about this for almost three weeks now, and while I’ve been ridiculously busy with other stuff, I suspect I’d have managed to get more down about a less draining book by now. It kinda reminds me of the Hiroshima Peace Museum; as a member of the human race you must see it once if you have the opportunity, but for your own peace of mind repeat visits are not recommended. Get it, read it, then give it to a friend, for both your sakes.