I have had War Girls on my TBR for a long time now. It’s been one of those books that I’ve been anticipating pretty strongly, but haven’t had the chance to open up. Well, I got my hands on a sneak peek copy from NetGalley recently and, initially, I was ecstatic. By all accounts, I should have immediately fallen in love with this book and moved it to the top of my to-read list. And I very much would have were it not for this one perpetually irritating piece that I could just not get past.
I want to preface this by saying that I find everything about the plot of this book incredibly enticing. It features strong female leads with vastly different skill sets, one that of war and fighting and the other of education and intellectualism. The book educates its readers about the history of civil wars in Africa, specifically Nigeria, in an incredibly exciting and commendable way. I loved the premise and the plot, I loved what I saw of the characters and I genuinely do not have any complaints about a single piece of them.
Why, then, do I feel like reading this book would be a massive chore that I, frankly, have a seriously difficult time getting past?
Everything, and I do literally mean everything, is written in the present-effing-tense.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the vast majority of books published these days are written in the past tense. Sentences flow in a manner such as, “Seff ranted vehemently about her hatred of present tense in novels,” not “Steff rants vehemently about her hatred of present tense in novels.”
And while you might look at those examples and wonder, well, what’s wrong with it?
To be fair, nothing.
But I personally cannot stand to read books in the present tense. I spent a good portion of this sample hating the writing so much that I nearly put the book down after I finished the second chapter. And I remember thinking to myself, wondering why I was so utterly jarred by the writing that I genuinely felt as though I couldn’t carry on. Present tense writing is immensely distracting.
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.
And I’m so majorly disappointed because this book genuinely sounds amazing. I feel like War Girls has so much to offer and I hate that it feels like a chore to read each page. I don’t want to impose my opinions for how a book should be written on other authors, but damn…why present tense? Maybe I’m a minority on this one, but I just cannot stand it. It more or less killed my ability to read this book.
Part of me feels like I should try to just power through it, read the novel anyway, and get over my absolute hatred of this style of writing. And considering the fact that I feel this book would be an important one to read I feel even more guilty about how difficult it was for me to get past. So, maybe one day I’ll pick it up and try again. But I dunno.
This was one of the hardest books to get into and it’s the first time I can say that it’s entirely due to one minor choice that could be fixed super easily. It’s the first time I can say that I couldn’t get through a book based on something that is related to the writing style but isn’t reflective of poor writing. The writing is good, the book appears to me, by all measures, brilliant. It’s just that stupid present tense.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.