Hello and welcome to another edition of me haphazardly writing a book blog, todays book is the 2019 Clarke award winner “Rosewater” by Tade Thompson.
A well-deserved winner in my mind, that being said all the nominees of 2019 has been very strong and different in their own way, they all have been a delight to read! personally I am glad I was not on the panel to choose the winner.
As for the book itself, “Rosewater” it is the first in “The Wormwood Trilogy”, with book two “The Rosewater Insurrection” released earlier this year and book three “The Rosewater Redemption” being slated for an October release. Can’t wait to see how it all ends!
Possible spoilers ahead:
The story follows Kaaro, who is a “sensitive”(A form of telepath) who is living in the city of Rosewater in Nigeria, the city itself is built around a massive alien entity(dome) called wormwood, the alien is a massive glowing dome that just sits there, once every year the dome opens for 20 to 30 minutes and everybody in the vicinity gets cured(with varying degrees of success) and the dead gets resurrected as mindless bodies(just a nuisance instead of a serious problem). Also, the towns power supply comes from the dome itself.
When the alien landed on earth (it was one of a few, but it was the only one that survived) it released spores into the atmosphere and it affected some people around the world, these people acquired some powers, Kaaro has the ability to connect to the xenosphere, a fungal network that connects everyone, through this he is able to read the thoughts and experiences of other people, he and other sensitives can communicate through the xenosphere, there they can project themselves as other creatures, Kaaro`s representation/avatar is an gryphon.
The story jumps between 2066(the present for the story) and to key time periods in Kaaro`s life, Childhood, first discovery of his talents, life of crime, life as a special agent.
In the present Kaaro works as a contractor in a bank with some fellow sensitives, with his abilities he is able to block other sensitives that are trying to steal personal information from the bank’s customers. He is also working as an interrogator from an obscure branch of the government called Section forty-five (S45. He has a somewhat strained relationship with his handler/superior. Kaaro is a lone wolf rarely connecting with other people, but when he meets a woman called Aminat at a friend`s gathering, he finds himself less lonely.
During the course of the story Kaaro discovers that other sensitives are dying off all of a sudden, and he might have a connection to what’s killing them. Help might lie in his past as an unwilling agent for S45 and his experience with wormwoods arrival in Nigeria.
The simple fact is that this is just a really good book. One set in a part of the world one rarely sees in science fiction (or at least I haven’t come across of)
Personally, I identify with Kaaro a bit, he is a bit weary and apathetic from a life of struggles (not that I have a lot of struggles in my life, I am just grumpy), a lone wolf until he meets a good woman.
Good things about the book:
Brilliant take on an alien invasion.
Xenopshere and the sensitives are a fascinating take on telepaths, a bit more realistic than usual (we can read minds just because), it has a reason why the sensitives can do what they can do.
The relationship between Kaaro and Aminat is realistically descripted, I feel like relationships in science fiction rarely are this realistic.
Pacing is excellent, rarely I come across a book I can`t put down, but I had things like work and dinners to hold me back from finishing it in one go.
Negative things about the book:
Its book one of a trilogy, I have too many series to read, don’t need one more……. I bought book 2……… and have to wait until October for book 3…. life is hard sometimes!
If you enjoyed this book and is looking for something similar then check out Something Coming Through and Into Everywhere by Paul McAuley
Notes on book:
Page number: 390