Cane Warriors

By Alex Wheatle (Andersen Press)

Cane Warriors By Alex Wheatle

Camille's review
This was a brilliantly written book; I enjoyed that it was written in dialect. It’s a sad and horrifying story of slavery that needs to be heard by everyone. There were parts where I simply couldn’t stop myself from crying. 

5 out of 5 stars.

Jake's review
What a powerful story this was to read. I found Moa’s narration so compelling. Reading a first person account of life in slavery and rebellion really gave me an insight into life on the plantation. I felt that Moa was brave and loyal, despite the fear that he faced, and the murder that he was asked to commit. Obviously the slave masters and overseers were the characters to dislike, and their treatment of the slaves and the description of the whips were awful. The author did raise questionable points such as the killing of the slave masters children. The plot was exciting as I didn’t know whether they would be successful at any point or it would be crushed straight away. What stood out for me was the friendship between Moa and Keverton and how Moa wouldn’t leave him. I found some of the language difficult to understand at first as it was written as the slaves might speak ‘cyant’ for example. I would definitely recommend it to other pupils as I think it gave an insight into how a teenager actually felt in that time period.

Esther's review
Moa is the main character, who is a 14 year old teenager. Moa was born into a sugar cane plantation in Jamaica and is surrounded by his cruel British overseers (a person who supervises others, especially workers). He is fed up and wants the wish to seek freedom but after the death of the eldest women on the plantation, who Moa and his companions were close to his friend, Tacky and him decide enough is enough. And after years of living in fear of their overseer Misser Donaldson’s harsh whips and their day of working very hard in the scorching heat. Now Moa's father is against the uprising and worries for his safety whilst his mother is proud and sends him away with prayers. 

I found it interesting how the story was told from the boy’s perspective (Moa) as it gave a deeper insight into the horrors slaves experienced. This shows us that moa as a character is very apollian but also equivocal because he has a great desire for the freedom of him and the rest of the slaves on the plantation but seems unsure of the impact the decision to kill many overseers and owners(+family) may have on them psychologically. 

The story is set in the Tacky’s war in colonial Jamaica in 1760, which was an uprising of Akan slaves and other Akan tribes including Ashanti, Fanti, Nzema and Akyem from the 7th April 1760 to July 1760. At midnight on July 31st 1834, the Abolition Bill, which the British parliament passed earlier in the year went into effect, ending over 300 years of slavery and it had been a long and brutal struggle to end the inhumanity of slavery. But as a result over 500 black men and women were killed in the battle. Some committed suicide or were executed after the British suppressed the revolt. And another 500 were forcibly removed from Jamaica and deported to Nova Scotia. 

As the book starts, in Chapter 1 it is more focused on the tensions and the relationship strained by fear between the overseers and Moa and his companions on the plantations. I also like how anger is shown in the form of guilt and mourning for the elderly woman they were all close to and how their frustration has a slow but fast transition into anger and then violence. Their freedom is incontrovertible.

I would recommend this book because it is an eye opener to the extent of the exploitation of the black women, men and children who were enslaved against their will and how the treatment they received from the British traders may have affected them physically and psychologically. It also engages others in the history of black people and how this racism from the 1760s still lives on today. The perspective of Mia leaves the reader gripping on out of fear and the feeling on continuous reading of this book. It also leads the reader to feel like they are in the book with Alex Wheatle’s use of emotive language and aggression to get the message across of the slaves suffering as you feel empathy and sympathetic.

Grace's review
The novel Cane Warriors (written by Alex Wheatle) tells us a story of a Jamaican boy who goes by the name of Moa who has spent his whole life working for white rich men on sugar cane plantations. His mission is to end slavery in Tacky’s war in the mid 18th century. It flows through the events of his friends and himself fighting for freedom whilst telling us his views on what happens. There was a very confident and strong storyline throughout the novel making the events clear and understandable for young readers. Though, it may take a little while to get used to the dialect used.

The main genres displayed in this informative narrative are adventure, history and it is a true account of unmentionable events that occurred. I would recommend this book as a great read for ages between 12 and 15 year olds who are interested in history and adventures.

Humairah's review
This book was the most interesting and emotional book I have ever read. The way the characters were portrayed and how the story was set out was amazing. It was such a wonderful book and I literally could not put it down. I also learnt a lot from this book and would recommend it.

Aansah's review
I enjoyed reading this book. The plot was interesting, and I learned a lot about slavery from it. The reason I chose this book was because of the time it was set in, and the theme. The slave trade, to me, was complicated and had many facets, so, in this way, it appealed to me because I thought that it would help deepen my understanding of the slave trade and how slaves were treated.

My favorite character is Moa, because of his strong belief in the uprising. However, I like all of the characters that took part in the uprising, because they worked together strongly, and they never gave up, even when continuing to fight would have been their death.

I learned a lot about what the different slaves did on a day-to-day basis, and also what it would have been like to be part of an uprising with people you know and don’t know.

The plot was serious, exciting, and heartwarming in some areas. It was also thought-provoking. I would definitely recommend this to any readers who love historical fiction, and are interested in learning more about the slave trade and slavery in the colonies.

Luke's review
This book is thought provoking and I felt a connection with Moa, because at 14 he is a boy of a similar age to me. Moa was interesting as he hovered between childhood and adulthood whilst striving to be an adult and take on adult responsibilities. Yet, he was still offered the protection of childhood for instance when he didn’t have to “commit suicide” with his friend Keveton.

I learnt that there was huge disparity between the lives of the slaves and the masters and overseers. The time in which the book was set is interesting as people were starting to realise how poorly they were being treated and were able to fight back (as Tacky did).

I didn’t have much understanding of this era but I can see why slavery has such a bearing on modern day life. I would recommend this book as the story is thought provoking, but it was difficult to read as it uses such speech that would have been used at the time.

Mia's review
Cane Warriors is set in the 1700s, during Tacky's War in Jamaica and was engaging from start to finish. 

This history is very important because it is a time when Britain had a large empire and behaved badly to make money. Tacky’s War was a significant rebellion of enslaved people, even though it failed, and Cane Warriors allows readers to understand why so many enslaved would rise up against a powerful country like Britain and how this inspired other rebellions. 

Cane Warriors shows just how awful life was for enslaved people, how they were mistreated and how those enslaving and overseeing attempted to dehumanise the enslaved. The story follows fourteen year old Moa, who wants to follow the charismatic Tacky, but his father warns him not to – which is understandable because the overseers were barbaric. The characters are very real and readers root for them throughout. 

This is not an easy read because slavery is not a nice topic but it is very powerful and the characters are very inspiring, fighting against the odds, determined to fight against their oppression, which is not always how enslaved people are shown when reading or learning about slavery. 

This is a book all high school students should read, especially when learning about slavery as it allows forces us to consider slavery from the perspective of enslaved people, even if we could never fully understand their experiences. I highly recommend it.

Gillian's review
I enjoyed how Cane Warriors uses a lot of patois in the book to remain authentic to the voice of Jamaican enslaved people and thought this was very effective.

Cane Warriors represented the day-to-day life cycle of those in slavery, how and when they were put to work and how they felt. The interactions are written very realistically and allow you to imagine the conversations taking place and used the scenery very well, as well as the time. The way to describe some of the characters like “2 thumbs taller, a branch wider” add a comforting sense and is a unique way to describe characters. The honest portrayal of the enslaved people’s suffering is quite heart-breaking, but I think the writer was able to bring up many of the real horrors faced, such as rape, to light. 

Readers can feel the genuine emotions of the characters and their thoughts are portrayed beautifully. The fast pace of conversation and scenes make the book not become sluggish and any reader would enjoy this book.

Zainab's review
This was quite a simplistic book to read despite the heavy subject matter, and each page was gripping with tension and conflict. Honestly I felt there was a lot of speech, and due to the characters ability to not speak fluent English times difficult to understand completely despite the fact it was quite realistic. It moved me deeply and overall had an important message to it. Being about slaves, it was a huge matter but it was an accurate picture to what life was like back then and the sacrifices made to be free was unbelievable but it also was a reminder of what these people went through and the hardships they were faced with. It was an empowering book. It is incredibly important that these moments in history are not forgotten, that the fight be known, be shared, be discussed. Learning about slavery in class, it helped me relate with the characters more and knowing that its all true made it even more hard-hitting. Overall it was a strong book that I would recommend to others.

Safa's review
I found this book interesting because the language used shows the level of education slaves received. My favourite character was Moa as his determination and perseverance shines through. Although he was the youngest, he was determined to make a difference for his family. It was interesting to learn about the past from the slaves perspective. It was really inspiring since after everything he had been through was tough and he still fought after that. The plot to me was really thought provoking as he had to kill to have freedom and nobody should ever have to choose between the two. I also loved the history behind it like how realistic it was. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested to learn more about slavery. I learnt the word pickney as it refers to young children. I strongly disapproved of the part where he killed someone just for his freedom.. Apart from that I loved it and would happily recommend this book.

Previous page     Next page