War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel Lefrance (illustrator); pub date Feb 7, 2013; ISBN 9781554514885
Based on the true stories of child soldiers in Africa, this book is filled with unthinkable violence against children. J. Kony, the self-proclaimed spokesperson of God, sends his minions out into the far reaches of Uganda to kidnap and enslave young male children to use as the “Soldiers of God” in his Lords Resistance Army. This is the story of one of those children.
When we first meet 14-year-old Jacob, he’s talking with a friend of his father’s about wanting to go to school to study mathematics. In the background, we see his father talking with others about Kony’s nighttime raids wherever children are housed. Jacob travels to a school gathering and on the first night, despite the extra security hired by his father, he and 37 other boys are kidnapped and must slog through the jungle to meet Kony. Given no food or water (because only real soldiers who kill are worthy of such things), and no medical care for their infected wounds and numb legs (because real soldiers never get injured, even by bullets), they survive as best they can. When they’re commanded to kill, the must or they will be killed. Every day is spent wondering where the government troops are — why is rescue taking so long?
The violence is abhorrent and something that no adult, much less a child, should have to endure. Sharon McKay does an excellent job of merging the many first-hand stories she heard from these child-soldiers into a compelling tale of one boy’s experience; Daniel Lefrance crafted an effective set of images to accompany the unfolding story.
Highly recommended historical graphic novel for teens and adults alike, this book relates an important, and still ongoing, horror in a powerful, engaging, and memorable manner.