by Tade Thompson
Tade Thompson’s Rosewater is the start of an award-winning, cutting edge trilogy set in Nigeria, by one of science fiction’s most engaging new voices.
Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.
Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again — but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.
Hello!! Hello! I have been talking about this book ever since I started reading it, haven’t I? It’s because it totally deserves all the attention if I am being honest. When I requested it on NetGalley, I wasn’t aware of the fact that it was first published in 2016 or that this was the first part of the trilogy but hey, I don’t mind. I love trilogies.
Anyway, whenever I talked about the book, I said that this book gave off very Welcome to Night Vale vibes and that’s not totally wrong however there’s much more obvious horror and bloodshed in the book. I loved the way it was formatted as well. At first it was a bit confusing to understand what was really happening but in a few chapters, the pace and the plot started to work together for me. One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that it was based in America. Seriously, the sheer number of books set in a futuristic or even present America are more than enough to last a lifetime. No offence meant.
Reading about the setting in Nigeria really made all the difference for me. The book starts with giving us some vague facts, like the dome that came out of nowhere in Nigeria and how Rosewater formed around it like a donut. It was initially called Donut too. How the alien?? dome opened periodically and it would ‘heal’ people. However this healing wasn’t always for the good, sometimes, people would mutate into something else, the dead would be reanimated (not brought to life, merely machines?).
Because of this dome which is called ‘Utopicity’, there were some people which were affected by it in a different way. They were given certain extra senses, shall we say? Kaaro is one of those people, he is a Sensitive and the government has managed to bring all the special people together in a separate special department. Kaaro can enter the Xenosphere and has been working for the government to stop people from stealing stuff from the banks and the government and such. However, all is not well in the Xenosphere, after a particularly deadly encounter with some people, he is informed that people like him, those with talents are dying mysteriously and he is one of the rare ones who is not affected.
Aside from all the drama that’s happening in Rosewater, Kaaro’s life is taking a dramatic turn as well, he’s met a woman he genuinely likes after a long time. When he enters the Xenosphere there’s someone calling out to him, a woman’s voice. That voice is sensual and makes him almost lose his mind in the Xenosphere. The mystery of what’s happening in his mind, along with what’s happening outside made me want to read it all in one sitting. (I didn’t manage it, real life didn’t let me.)
This book basically has it all. There’s an alien invasion, there are special powers, there’s political intrigue, crime and a revolution! All set in Nigeria in a future where everything’s flipped. I am not sure how to categorize this but if you love science fiction and horror along with some really interesting themes then this is the book for you. It’s gripping and engaging and frankly, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.