How ‘American War’ by Omar El Akkad Will Change Your Worldviews (Book Review)

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*This book was a Shari’s Pick for January 2019!

‘American War’ drags us through the heartbreaking toll that war causes everyday people and it makes us see.

Book: American War

Author: Omar El Akkad

Publisher: Knopf

Published: April 4, 2017

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/American-War-Omar-El-Akkad-ebook/dp/B01LXK1HBB

Stars: 4/5

“This isn’t a story about war. It’s about ruin.” – American War

After I finished reading war journalist’s Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, one quote came to mind from Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Mr. El Akkad bled all the way through this haunting, moving, and conscience-punching book that begs the question: What if the United States turned its most ruthless foreign policies against its own people in a second American Civil War over fossil fuels?

But while Mr. El Akkad draws obvious parallels to modern-day controversies—such as drones, torture, refugee camps, and the weaponizing of desperation for terrorism—his story is not a political one. Instead, American War drags us through the heartbreaking toll that war causes everyday people and it makes us see.

The Story

Part dystopia, part family saga, American War follows the story of one family ravaged by the new Civil War, the Chestnuts. Specifically, curious and adventurous Sarat Chestnut, who is only 6 years old when the book begins.

Taking place several decades in the future, Sarat’s world in the South is different than the one we know today. The coastal cities have been overtaken by the ocean, Florida is now the Florida Sea, and the Free Southern State is fighting for its right to continue using fossil fuels, which have been outlawed by the North. The rivers are dead, and food is nearly impossible to grow.

When the war drives the Chestnuts from their simple home by the river, we follow Sarat’s story through refugee camps, radicalization, massacres, and immeasurable loss. This is the story of how one innocent girl becomes the victim of so much greed, eventually turning her into a weapon that will devastate the country.

Pros Versus Cons

American War enticed me from the start, with its haunting opening from a mysterious narrator. However, the book began to slow toward the middle and dragged for several chapters. I believe this is because Mr. El Akkad wrote with too much description and narration, but not enough dialogue to shape the characters and scenarios.

However, as I began to approach the final two parts of the book, the story’s pace escalated quickly. I finally found myself connecting with Sarat and her plight with the emotion and empathy I was hoping for earlier in the book.

I’m glad I kept reading, because in the final two parts, Mr. El Akkad illustrated his immense capacity for writing effective, hard-hitting, and powerful dialogue. He seemed more connected to his writing; I’m not sure why, but the words and emotion felt rawer. Perhaps less edited to perfection?

Either way, the ending was powerful and left me dumbfounded. I finally understood why Mr. El Akkad had to write the way he did in the middle of the book. As a reader, I would not have understood the end with such potency otherwise.

The Final Note

As a journalist who’s covered the war in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, the Egyptian Revolution during the Arab Spring, and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mr. El Akkad obviously poured his heart into this story. He has written a strong, weighty, and influential book that will force you to re-think your worldviews. It forced me to re-think mine.

The morning after finishing American War, I was scanning through my Instagram feed and came to a post from National Geographic about a Syrian father with his 2-month-old baby in a refugee camp north of Greece. I’ve always felt empathy for the plight of refugees, but this time, something else struck me—a deeper understanding, as if I knew.

If American War opened my eyes in this way, perhaps it’s an antidote for the lack of compassion across the world today, and therefore a necessary read for everyone.

Did you like this book review? Then follow me on Goodreads for more like it!

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What Would You Do If Your Mother Was Killed and You Wound Up on the Streets?

 

Imagine this: you’re a teenager and living in a small, one-bedroom apartment with your mom. She works 16-hour days and barely makes enough money to eat. You live in a desert inferno and barely leave your boxed home.

Then, one day, you take your younger brother for ice-cream. When you return, you find your mother dead. With no one left to care for you, you wind up on the street, trying to protect your younger brother.

What would you do?

The Making of a Monster

This is the premise of “Stone from HELL: An Apollo Illusion Short Story,” which just released on Amazon for only $0.99 this week (or FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers).

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I’ve always been fascinated by the birth of a villain, and “Stone from HELL” is the backstory of the most notorious hacker from my futuristic debut novel, The Apollo Illusion. If you read “Stone from HELL,” you might find hints of yourself in its protagonist. The story is dark, gritty, edgy, but most of all, it’s scary.

Scary because more than anything, “Stone from HELL” is about society’s dark forces that turn the best of us into the demons we fear at night.

Of course, you could go on living in your happy-go-lucky bubble, where these things don’t happen to your or your family. But then you wouldn’t get the thrill of challenging your mind to wonder, “What if?” And you’d miss the subliminal messages and hidden commentary about certain issues today. Issues that might affect you without your knowledge.

“Stone from HELL” is Short and Cheap, So Why Not Grab It Now?

For less than $1, “Stone from HELL” is a short story (about 24 Kindle pages) that you can read in 30 or 40 minutes. Really, if you buy it, I guarantee you won’t be sorry–especially if you’ve already read The Apollo Illusion and are dying for more.

Buy “Stone from HELL” now for only $0.99, and find out what makes a monster …

 

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Review ‘The Apollo Illusion’ on Amazon for Your Chance

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Have you read my book, The Apollo Illusion, and posted about it on Goodreads, Facebook, your blog, or elsewhere? Have you told friends or family about it?

Why not turn your review into a shot at winning a $25 Amazon gift card?

How to Enter

  1. By next week on Dec. 8, 2018, post your HONEST review of The Apollo Illusion to Amazon by clicking here.
  2. Email me with a link to your Amazon review at shari.lopatin@gmail.com.

That’s it! After the giveaway ends in two weeks on Dec. 8, I’ll randomly draw one lucky winner to receive the $25 Amazon gift card and notify him/her by email.

Why Amazon?

As an indie author, Amazon reviews are VITAL for me. Amazon’s algorithm works like this: the more reviews that are posted about my book, the more Amazon shows it to new readers. This means more people could potentially buy it.

So hurry (you only have one week left) and enter for your chance to win that $25 Amazon gift card (more books, anyone?). Post your review now!

Prices for ‘The Apollo Illusion’ Increasing by December!

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Due to wider distribution, prices for my debut novel, The Apollo Illusionwill soon be going up. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, now’s the time while the e-book is only $2.99 and the paperback is $10.99.

These changes may happen as early as December, so if you’re curious to read it, hurry and buy it now!

About The Apollo Illusion

Nothing is ever what it seems in this riveting science fiction dystopia about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology.

The year is 2150, and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden.

When Flora’s naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.

The Apollo Illusion is a story for the hackers, the techies, the seekers, and the rebels of the world.

MORE INFORMATION:

  • Audience: ages 15+ (older teens and young adults)
  • Genres: dystopian suspense, science fiction, young adult (YA), speculative fiction

Editorial Reviews

“This is a story that’s well-written and the mysteries contained within the plot draw you in and keep you hooked from one page to the next. The Apollo Illusion should occupy a spot on the to-read list of any true dystopian sci-fi fan.” — John Coon, author of Pandora Reborn

“Pacey, exciting storytelling with great characters, loads of action and a super cute romance. What’s not to love?” — Lucinda Winters, book reviewer and blogger

“The timely release of The Apollo Illusion comes in the wake of ‘alternative facts’ and attacks on the ‘fake news’ media from President Trump and his administration … It’s a dark look at a future more closely in alignment with the present than Lopatin anticipated when she completed the first draft four years ago.” — Arizona Daily Sun

Guys, the e-book price is crazy affordable: only $2.99. So if the storyline piques your interest (even just a little bit), I really encourage you to buy The Apollo Illusion now!

Cover Reveal! Stone from HELL: An ‘Apollo Illusion’ Short Story

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Oooooo guys, doesn’t it just give you CHILLS? If you haven’t read a sneak peek of this sucker yet, read the first two chapters now!

What Makes a Monster?

In this short story about The Apollo Illusion’s most notorious hacker, Stone, we learn about the teenager he was before everything fell to pieces. And the man he became to establish the infamous, frightening group, HELL.

When Stone’s younger brother tears into his world midsummer 2131, Stone is sure his life is over. With every penny going to care for his brother, Stone can no longer save for college, dooming him to a life of economic slavery in the desert inferno of Sector 1.

After a random ice-cream trip one night, tragedy strikes, turning Stone’s life upside down. Thrust into a sudden reality filled with his worst fears, Stone harnesses his desperation to survive. But in the process, will he drive away the one thing he loves most?

If you liked the world of The Apollo Illusion and are dying for more, you’ll get your fix with “Stone from HELL.” It is the backstory of Stone’s creation, of the birth of HELL, and of society’s dark forces that turn the best of us into the demons we fear at night.

COMING SOON, SO STAY TUNED!

**(If you want to be the first to know when “Stone from HELL” becomes available, sign up for my Readers Club email list now!)

READ A SNEAK PEEK! Apollo Illusion Offshoot to be Launching Soon, ‘Stone from HELL’

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If you read my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, then you know all about Stone and HELL. But how did Stone become the person he was in The Apollo Illusion?

Stone from HELL: An Apollo Illusion Short Story” is the backstory of how Stone came to be, and the birth of the infamous organization, HELL. And yes, one other main character from The Apollo Illusion is also in this short story. 😉

[Read the first two chapters now!]

In essence, “Stone from HELL” is to The Apollo Illusion what “Rogue One” is to Star Wars. It’s an offshoot, an extension, a further explanation. And if you loved the world of The Apollo Illusion and were dying to know more about it, you’ll get your fill in “Stone from HELL.”

Read a Sneak Peek!

Because you follow my blog, I’m excited to offer YOU a sneak peek of this brand new short story!

DOWNLOAD YOUR SNEAK PEEK HERE.

And stay tuned. I still have the cover reveal coming, and “Stone from HELL” will be available on Amazon. My Readers Club subscribers will be the first to know when the rest of the story becomes available, so don’t miss out! Sign up now!

Meet Me at the Phoenix Public Library’s First Read Local Author Fair!

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I am crazy excited to announce that the Phoenix Public Library chose my book, The Apollo Illusion, to be included in its FIRST Read Local Author Fair event! In partnership with Local First Arizona and along with about 30 other Arizona authors, I’ll have a booth set up so you can purchase a copy of The Apollo Illusion, get your book signed, and/or grab a selfie for Facebook or Instagram. Best of all, 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the Friends of the Public Library, so you’re supporting a good cause.

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If you live in Arizona, or plan to be in Arizona during the author fair, I’d love to meet you! Check out the details below, and SAVE THE DATE!

Date: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018
Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Mark your calendars now! [RSVP to the Facebook event here]

I hope to see you there!

Goodreads Giveaway! One More Shot to Win ‘The Apollo Illusion’

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The bad news: the giveaway to win one of two signed copies of The Apollo Illusion ended yesterday.

The good news: you can still win an e-copy of The Apollo Illusion via Goodreads!

New Goodreads Giveaway Just Launched!

That’s right. 🙂 A new Goodreads Giveaway just launched on Saturday this week. This time, your odds of winning are MUCH better. I’m giving away 100 e-book copies of The Apollo Illusion.

YES, YOU HEARD ME CORRECTLY. 100 E-COPIES!

But hurry and enter now, before the giveaway ends! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/284907-the-apollo-illusion.

 

 

 

ONE WEEK LEFT! Enter to Win a SIGNED Copy of The Apollo Illusion

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In case you missed it, I launched a giveaway for two SIGNED copies of my debut YA science fiction/dystopian suspense novel, The Apollo Illusion. That means YOU could win one of the autographed books!

But the giveaway ends in one week (oh no!). So if you want your shot, hurry and enter now!

What’s the Catch?

To enter the giveaway, just sign up for my email list, “The Readers Club,” by clicking here: https://mailchi.mp/128965a01501/apollo-illusion-giveaway-entry. On Oct. 3, 2018, I will randomly select two lucky winners from the list of giveaway participants. It’s that easy!

Seriously though, you lose NOTHING by trying. 😊 And The Apollo Illusion is getting crazy four-and-five-star reviews from readers and book bloggers: “an enthralling dystopian story” … “absolutely fascinating” … “one of the best books I’ve been asked to review” … and “a gripping story of opposing futures.”  

If you want to know more about the book, then hey—enter the giveaway! You might even get a sneak peek at the opening chapters (wink, wink).

Win a SIGNED Copy of my Book, The Apollo Illusion!

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Do you love reading, author-signed books, and fun giveaways? Well …

Starting today, I’m launching a giveaway for two SIGNED copies of my debut YA science fiction/dystopian suspense novel, The Apollo Illusion. That means YOU could win one of two author-signed copies! Wanna enter? Here’s how:

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter the giveaway, just sign up for my email list, “The Readers Club” before Sept. 30, 2018. Then, on Oct. 3, I will randomly select two lucky winners from the list of giveaway participants. You could be one of them!

  1. Sign up for “The Readers Club” at this link: https://mailchi.mp/128965a01501/apollo-illusion-giveaway-entry.
  2. That’s it!

Here’s More about The Apollo Illusion

The Apollo Illusion has been getting consistent four-and-five-star reviews from readers and book bloggers (and yes, I’m lovin’ it!). Reviewers have called it “an enthralling dystopian story” … “absolutely fascinating” … “one of the best books I’ve been asked to review” … and “a gripping story of opposing futures.”

Personally, I think people are saying these things because the book is about the future consequences of society’s overdependence on technology. Kind of a timely topic. 😉

If you want to know more about the book, then hey—enter the giveaway! You might even get a sneak peek at the opening chapters (wink, wink).