I made the decision to get this book after I read a review on it on @novels_before_night’s blog. The review was honest and funny so I told myself I had to buy a copy of the book. (Thank you @novels_before_night). I told myself I needed to find out for myself what this book entails—good or bad. I am that curious lol.
Fast forward to a few days after I saw the review, I bought the book. I read it myself, at least most part of it, and here’s what I think about it.
“Camouflage” by Selassie Mensah, averagely, is a good book—good in a way that gets you to read on, no matter how much you might want to put it away. It has an awesome cover too so that is a plus.
Generally, the subject matter and the themes explored in there aren’t anything new. You’ve heard them before and as a young adult in the university or even as an avid reader, you know about them. Yet, I feel the book is for all and, perhaps, a much younger audience—those yet to discover the darkness of the world…those yet to know more about the subjects presented in the book. Maybe between fifteen-ish to seventeen. Even the writing style used can be my witness—it is simple, easy to read and one can read it at a go.
Although the subject matter and themes are ones that are known, that is never a problem because there are subjects that some authors keep on writing about over and over and they never get old. As the Akan saying goes, “ɛnam dodoɔ nsɛe nkwan” and “ɛpo koraa nsuo tɔ gu mu”. You could always take more of a particular subject regardless of how many times you’ve heard about it. It even gets better if the execution is done differently. The execution in Selassie’s book was ok but she could have explored these themes differently and even better with a bit more depth and not so fast-paced. Although I believe the pace was to make room for the many incidents presented. Nonetheless, a more different execution would have turned an already good book to one of the greatest. My opinion though.
At face value, you might underestimate the book because of some of the things I’ve mentioned up there but don’t be deceived. Yes, it is so simply written. Yes, it explores subjects you already know of. However, some of the issues addressed in there are crucial and at some point, you get to feel sad, angry or happy along with the characters. I think the author succeeded in achieving that. It is not easy to get your readers to sympathise or empathise with your characters.
Also, the issues addressed are important for application in our lives, for advising ourselves and others and even for creating a sane society. Some of these issues like Percy stealing a kiss from Sompa when she was most unguarded. I feel it was inappropriate and the world would be a better place if guys (myself included) knew how to treat ladies. That was a good lesson to learn from the book.
Another was Joey spiking Araba’s drink, trying to rape her while recording and Dorcas’ childhood sexual abuse by the father, her mother overlooking the abuse and how it made her the young adult she became.
Consequences of our actions can’t be disregarded. So thank you for that lesson, Selassie. There is a twist in the presenting of this known subject that you would have to read the book to find out. Trust me, you would want to find out what that is.
Again, the author has a good Sense of humour and it is evident in the book. It gets you to laugh once in a while. That is a good thing. I guess. With the book set in KNUST (although the author does a smart job to change the names of locations and even the university name…maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong but the setting feels more like KNUST ), I found the book very relatable.
Nonetheless, despite its almost predictable storyline (until the twist happened), there were other issues I found. These might be personal or general but well, it is worth pointing out. I am a language fanatic and a language student for that matter. I am very particular about languages, especially, our local languages. The usage of these languages in our daily lives is fading out and more so, in our writings. I was happy when I saw that Selassie used some of these local phrases in her book but I had issues with its orthography. Some of the Twi words were wrongly written—one of the issues most people have these days…writing Twi words and phrases like how they hear them or how they feel they should be written. Selassie could have consulted people with knowledge in the language for better usage.
All in all, it was quite a good read. The book would make a great book for younger individuals as I mentioned which is a plus. Moreover, if the Twi usage bit is fixed, it could even be used as a literary reference for those at the junior high school. I would recommend it to any young person I meet who is trying to cultivate the habit of reading…you know for that easy and fast read that the book is and the lessons in there.