Johnny Mad Dog Hardcover – Apr 21 2005
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
Two teenagers are caught up in the melee as rival ethnic factions turn their Congolese city into a bloody battleground in this harrowing novel by Dongala (Little Boys Come from the Stars, etc.). Laokolé, a bright girl of 16 who dreams of one day becoming an engineer, flees home ahead of the marauding militias. With her younger brother and legless mother (whom she pushes in a wheelbarrow), she struggles not only to stay alive but to sustain her hopes for the future. Alternate chapters give readers the boastful voice of 15-year-old Johnny Mad Dog, a member of the Death Dealers militia, as he patrols the city with his Uzi, looting, raping and killing, eager to prove himself a man. Dongala, a native of the Congo Republic (formerly French Congo), offers an unflinching look at the greed and ignorance that drives fighters like Mad Dog, as well as the fear, desperation and anger of those trapped in the cross fire. Despite occasional wooden dialogue and the rather stagey showdown between the two narrators, Dongala frames some powerful questions: namely, how humans can be so cruel, and conversely, how do they maintain their humanity in the face of unremitting ugliness? As Mad Dog himself half-marvels, half-laments, "even if we looted them a thousand times, they would always manage to hang onto something." (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This novel of civil war in West Africahas two teen narrators, and while both are more eloquent and grown-up in their thinking than seems possible, that barely detracts from the story's devastating power. The first storyteller is the eponymous Johnny, a child soldier serving in an irregular militia whose side has just won power. Johnny fancies himself an intellectual, but he constantly muddles history, and he struggles endlessly to think of an appropriately ruthless nickname for himself. The second narrator, Laokole, tells the same tale of murder, rape, and devastation that Johnny does but from a different perspective: that of a 16-year-old girl who just wants to save her younger brother and legless mother from the violence. A good student who wants to attend university, Laokole's journey of survival is particularly gut-wrenching because it alternates with Johnny's pathetic, adolescent evilness. At the beginning, Laokole wants to be an engineer; by the end, she wishes to be an astronaut. It's a magnificent symbol for Laokole's coming-of-age; her world, it seems, cannot be rebuilt--only escaped. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With youthful hubris, Johnny Mad Dog considers himself an intellectual, but his arrogance far exceeds his native intelligence, as brutal a character as any seasoned veteran. He rationalizes his actions, spouting policy in rejecting "the previous government and its leader, enemies of the people and democracy, a genocidal regime... I think that's what we'd been told to say."
In sharp contrast, the 16-year old Laokole leaves her shabby hut with her brother and legless mother in a wheelbarrow, the children taking turns pushing. Along the way, the brother, Fofo is separated from his sister and mother. The mother's legs are a casualty of the last rebel rampage, when her husband was shot. Laokole thinks about the futility of their plight, danger at every turn, even "why a woman should limit the number of her own children: because the fewer children you had, the more easily you could flee in times of war and looting." Nowhere is safe in this chaotic world, turned upside-down by the rebels, soldiers, bandits, all interchangeable, young and old pursued, "for no one is too old to flee death". Everyone carries their most prized possessions, for Laokole and Fofo it is their mother.
By contrasting the lives of the two teenagers, Johnny Mad Dog and Laokole, the author paints a stunning picture of depravity vs. courage. Laokole is the voice of humanity, while Johnny Mad Dog is corrupted by power, depraved by senseless murders, excusing his own brutality: "I know, I know, my kind heart is going to get me in serious trouble." In alternating chapters, the girl and the young man maneuver through the unremitting violence that is total chaos. The carnage is everywhere, death stalking the streets with each fetish-wearing youth with a rifle in his hands.
The refugees look for their story to be told on the television, but nothing is mentioned on American TV. The European stations have some coverage, "images I've seen a thousand times on programs about Rwanda, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Central African Republic and eastern Zaire". Africa is seen on the screen as a vast refugee camp, "the ragged, wandering hordes." This painful, but important novel gives voice to the massacre of innocents, over 10, 000 deaths, half a million displaced persons and refugees, a humanitarian catastrophe. "How can you have hope in a country when the road to power is littered with corpses?" The haunting voice of this young woman tells the story of millions, abandoned to their fate. When will the world respond to this genocidal nightmare? Luan Gaines/2005.
Be warned - it is brutal.
By re-reading the novel, I was amazed at how the life and activities of Africa's child soldiers (whether it be in Sierra Leone,Sudan,the Congo,Uganda or as this novel hints at Anywhere Africa), are accurately and terribly but also pitifully depicted. The brain of Johnny Mad Dog,a teenage rebel soldier saturated with violence and murder contrasted with the brain of Laokole,a teenage girl who witnessed and tried to avoid that violence. To her this absurdity of war did not make sense and sometimes she couldn't believe it was really happening. Rebel militias invade villages,abduct children as young as 6 or 7, force them to kill their family members under pain of torture or death,then train them to become soldiers and finally drug them,threaten them and force them to kill. Sometimes it is vice versa where government armies also train children as soldiers to kill the rebels. The consciouseness of the world now is aroused hopefully in knowing what is going on in these parts of the world with child soldiers dubbed as Invisible Children. The French made film "Johnny Mad Dog" is also a hit to many.It is remarkable in that many of the actors needed little rehearsals because they were actually former child soldiers! Unfortunately,no DVD of this movie is available in Region 1 which I believe includes the U.S.A. However you can view some of it in YouTube under Invisible Children. It is hoped that these "invisible children" would now become visible. Johnny Mad Dog is a fast-paced violent novel but authentic in its form,has happened or still happening.
Like CSI, there was so much blood and guts that one became innured to it early on. it became a little predicatble, Africans gone wild killing each other while whites helicopter in for a photo shoot. As such it lacked much of the simmering outrage against Western Aid of "Capetown to Cairo". Are we to belive that all Amero-Europeans are superficial gawkers in swell transport while all Africans are helpless victims of both their own violence and the West's desire for entertainment?
That being said, the book did keep one's attention is sort of a movie-like way and even though the various outcomes were predictable, one could not wait for his worst fears regarding the main charaters to be realizied, but in a palatable form. Maybe literature is generally devolving into a screenplay; this book seemed to be
The story is told by two of his characters, the teenage girl who is trying to protect her loved ones and the slightly-older teenage boy who is one of the fighters. In alternating chapters, the events of the war are related by these two. As their paths cross several times during the events, two versions are presented for a number of incidents. The boy's arrogant amoral role borders on criminal insanity, but Dongala makes him believable.
Dongala has created a "page-turner" here. Johnny Mad Dog is compelling and deeply disturbing.