May 26, 2014

Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen | Book Review

In the novel Fine Boys, Ewaen and his friend Wilhelm get accepted into the University of Benin to study medicine. The university campus is a different environment that offers them freedom and independence. Their circle of friends grows and constantly morphs as friends are made and lost, and romantic entanglements don't lead to happily ever after's. They have to study hard, stay focused and avoid the bad boys - the campus confraternities that seek to initiate them. Joining a confraternity in a Nigerian university is a really bad move. Everyone knows that even before they get accepted to pursue their degree. Confraternities are a fast moving, destructive crowd that's much more trouble than it's worth. Being admirable young men, there are a few confraternities interested in initiating them. Will Ewaen and his friends join a confraternity or reject the offers and focus on their education? All of this is set in a Nigeria undergoing turmoil.

Fine Boys wasn't engaging from the beginning and it continued in that pattern till the end. Its characters loose their virginities, party, drink and discuss personal matters and national issues. The discussions on national issues are the same ones you'll find at any gathering of Nigerians. Topics ranging from the corruption in Nigeria, to the irresponsibility of Nigerian leaders who plunder rather than lead, to comparisons of Nigeria with other more progressive third world countries. I have to say, for medical students the characters seem to have too much time on their hands. All the medical students I've known in my life always seemed too busy to have the luxury of an active social life. Yes, their university goes on strike a couple of times thereby freeing up their schedule. Regardless of that they still had too much free time. Initially I thought all of this was leading somewhere, taking the reader to something more intriguing. You know, the calm mundane life right before the tempest. It did not. Fine Boys is not particularly insightful into the life of a Nigerian university student or the mystery that is university confraternities, and it doesn't need to be. Eventually, I arrived at the end of Fine Boys but even that doesn't reward me for my time spent reading this novel.

[Image via Farafinabooks]

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