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Jacob is a 14-year-old Ugandan who is sent away to a boys' school. Once there, he assures his friend Tony that they need not be afraid -- they will be safe. But not long after, in the shadow of the night, the boys are abducted. Marched into the jungle, they are brought to an encampment of the feared rebel soldiers. They are told they must kill or be killed, and their world turns into a terrifying struggle to endure and survive.
In time, the boys escape. Hunted by the rebels, stalked by a lion, and even pursued by river crocs, they miraculously succeed in reaching safety. However, it is no longer enough. Jacob wrestles with the question of whether we are all really beasts inside. He decides the way through the pain is to record his story.
Daniel Lafrance's powerful, striking, and poignant artwork and the crisp, evocative text vividly capture the haunting experiences of a young boy caught in a brutal war.
This graphic novel is based on an award-winning YA novel by Sharon McKay. Sharon has spent time with child soldiers and based this story on real-life accounts.
This is not a book for children. Repeat: NOT a book for children. It's a graphic novel, but don't let that fool you. I felt absolutely sick while reading this and I'm sure I'm going to have nightmares tonight. I wouldn't dare give it to a child.
However awful I may feel after I finished this graphic novel, it's nothing near what the children in the Lord's Republican Army in Uganda experience on a daily basis. Intellectually, I know about Joseph Kony and his group of rebel soldiers. I've heard of the atrocities he advocates and the kill-or-be-killed mentality amongst his varied groups of soldiers. This book -- this perfectly-illustrated, emotionally-charged, scary-as-hell look at what a boy goes through after he is kidnapped -- brings it all home.
If you are bothered by children put in terrible situations, don't read this graphic novel. If, however, you want the experience of what it's like to be a child of war, pick this up immediately.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.