July 03, 2013

Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele | Book Review

In Burma Boy, Banana, a former apprentice of a local blacksmith, has lied about his age to get into the army. The platoon he joined rejects him after he convalesces from a bout of chickenpox because they are scared that he's still infectious. He joins the "Chindits", a "rapid-reaction group" created by the very eccentric Major Wingate. Chindits are "trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines" in order to undermine Japanese efforts in Burma. Regardless of his eagerness to be put to better use Banana is just a child. A little boy who joins the Chindits on their grueling journey towards the enemy.

Burma Boy is not captivating. It lacks energy. A tale about a child soldier should be many things that this tale is not. I felt no emotions. Nothing. I just kept flipping pages. In someone else's hands the last 6 pages would have ripped me open but I remained unmoved. Burma Boy is like Coca-Cola without the gas and the sugar. For a tale with so much potential I am not at all impressed.

[Image via Kalahari]

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