Apr 7, 2016

Best Read of March - Lagoon

(Random note - as soon as I saw I had 333 posts written I beat up myself for not having published this one sooner. That number is a little startling.)

It took me longer than I wanted it to take me, but I finally finished Lagoon. A friend recommend it to me after I mentioned I wanted a genre book placed in Africa, to meet my personal reading challenge. It's a good read, and one I doubly want to share because the author, Nnedi Okorafor, is a Nigerian woman.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor book cover
Lagoon is set in Lagos. One night, three people are drawn to the beach. Anthony is a Ghanaian rapper, Agu is a soldier, and Adaora is a marine biologist. The night has been rough for all of them, but it gets rougher as they are pulled beneath the waves to become the first ambassadors to the aliens in the water. Ayodele, one of the shape shifting aliens, returns to shore with them to announce to Lagos that the city is not alone. Her and her kind are there to be an agent of change. The problem is, there are many in the city who want to dictate that change. From the military to religious leaders to a school LGBT group, plans quickly spiral out of control and Lagos slips into a night of chaos.

It's hard to start on what I loved about this book, because there's a lot.

Okorafor had me fall in love with minor characters within a page. Her writing is simple, but emotional at the same. Everyone you come across will pull one heart string or another. She manages characters really well too, the random observer in chapter four will become a sudden internet sensation by chapter forty.

What I really enjoyed though was how....local this book was. This is a story about an alien invasion, but this is not how it would work in NYC. This is not how it would work in a small nowhere town. It's uniquely Nigerian, from how the population behaves to the mythical elements that slowly grow as the novel progresses. To have an alien save you from a folkloric monster...well, that's not typical.

And that's what drew me to this book. It's not typical. It an alien invasion I haven't seen before. It's not mass destruction or secret manipulation of a population you see a lot. The aliens here are human in their desires and actions, each as different as you or me, and interact with the citizens of Lagos in different manners. I loved seeing this...trope I guess you could say, or maybe sub-genre, explored and played with this way. It's a foreign perceptive on something I've only seen from Hollywood and I loved seeing things in this new light.


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