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Though Fine boys is set in the 90s, nothing has changed – Book Review with Ezioma Kalu

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Though Fine boys is set in the 90s, nothing has changed – Book Review with Ezioma Kalu

I love reading books that explore Nigerian universities because Nigerian universities are a lot. It is not possible for you to finish your course of study without experiencing chaos, and even glitches. This book is set in Nigeria during the ’90s, which is a very important era in Nigerian history.

Ewaen, the protagonist of this book is a sixteen-year-old lad who has gained admission into the prestigious University of Benin, and who has his entire life ahead of him

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This book is divided into three parts; Year One January 1993 – March 1994, Year Two March 1994 – March 1995 and Year Three June 1995 – eternity.

In the first year, we are introduced to Ewaen and his family. A father who constantly uses the f-word, and a mother, who has been a victim of domestic violence for years, but has been managing her life as she sees it. And the paradoxical twins, Osaze and Eniye, who look nothing alike, and who always struggle for everything.

His is a regular middle-class family living in Warri Delta state, but they are unhappy because of the constant squabbles and bickering by both parents. While reading the book too, I was pissed because I detest domestic violence and everything it stands for. No one has the right to lay a finger on their partner’s body, and I hated the fact that Ewaen’s father does this constantly, and even justifies his actions. Imagine hindering his wife from pursuing her dreams of going to a law school and becoming an attorney.

So when the time comes for Ewaen to leave the house for the university, he’d be overjoyed, because he is already tired of his family’s drama.

Then, he would gain admission to study medicine, together with his best friend, Wilhelm. In the beginning, I loved Wilhelm’s character. A handsome biracial boy with a German mother and a Nigerian father. And I loved the pure friendship he’d share with Ewaen.

But then, things would take a drastic turn when they are introduced to the harsh reality of the higher institution, cultism. This book is set at a time when cultism was prevalent in Nigerian higher institutions, and students were massively killed.

Different cult groups would approach Ewaen and other first-year students, and lobby them or even threaten them to blend, that is to get initiated in their group. This was and is still prevalent in Nigerian higher institutions, and it beats me why they are so keen on these movements that do nothing but kill and destroy and maim.

There is no single gain in cultism, because all they do is to go about and fight opposing cult groups, kill innocent people and spread violence. And Ewaen would swear not to ever blend, Wilhelm too. But would they be able to hold up for so long? Would they be able to endure the threats from cult groups all over the school?

Another common issue in Nigerian universities is the constant strike by both academic and non-academic staff, ASUU and NASU. Though this book is set in the 90s, nothing has changed. Nigerian institutions still face this issue, because every four market days, the staff go on strike and students come back home.

This shows how stagnant Nigeria’s development is. Imagine after thirty years and more, this issue of strikes is still very much prevalent in higher institutions. It’s such a heartbreaking reality, and it is not even getting better.

This book also reveals how life is for a Nigerian university student, the communal life they live in school hostels. I also love the theme of friendship explored, how they had each other’s back and how they navigated through school together.

But the ending broke me. I was expecting something like that, but not exactly that. I didn’t see this particular event happening. In fact, Imasuen beautifully wrote this book and I can’t stop talking about it.

This is an important coming-of-age book, and I think everyone, especially the young ones, deserves to read it. But some things did not work for me though, like the many characters in the book and how they are not fully developed. This book has so many characters, and it tends to confuse you at times. But it is well written regardless and deserves to be read and pondered on. I would rate it as 4/5, and definitely recommend it.


About the Writer: Ezioma Kalu is a fast rising Nigerian writer and book blogger. She runs a book blog, Bookish Pixie, where she writes amazing reviews on books. Connect with her on Instagram.

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