“The Nigerian government takes its cue from colonial masters always. Today they used a particle accelerator weapon. Tomorrow, who knows? Nuclear weapons? Tesla ray from the Nautilus?”
There is so much plot in this book so I’ve kept my summary brief for anyone who is looking to read this book. Here is a brief outline:
Rosewater is the first book in Thompson’s Wormwood Trilogy. It’s set in 2066 in Rosewater, a town in Nigeria that was formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome which is said to offer miraculous healing properties to civilians. In this town lives Kaaro, a government agent/bank employee with a criminal past and psychic abilities. He can read minds, recall other people’s past memories and manipulate their brains to think they are being tortured. The narrative follows three different timelines: Kaaro’s early years living in Lagos as a thief, his recruitment into the Section 45 secret service and the main timeline, which is set in present day and follows Kaaro as he attempts to work out why his fellow agents are mysteriously dying.
I love reading Science Fiction but admittedly, I am not the biggest science buff. Because of this, I really appreciated Thompson’s ‘historical references’ - aka allusions to what we are currently going through with Trump’s America, corrupt voting systems and Brexit. It made the whole book a lot more relatable and provided some context to a world that is otherwise unrecognisable to its reader. According to this new world, for instance, America is no longer a world power, and is instead isolating itself while China and Russia vie for the top spot.
I have conflicted feelings about Rosewater’s protagonist, Kaaro. He is the unlikely hero for sure - he’s a middle-aged thief and misogynist, and has little remorse for the people in his life that he has done wrong. He has little to no work ethic and is solely driven by his desire for money. In spite of this, you can’t help but laugh at his witty one-liners and admire his drive for self-preservation. In some ways, I actually liked that he was verging on the morally grey. He refusal to conform or listen to authority makes his narration all the more exciting to follow.
The world building in this novel is very good and I was impressed with how Thompson managed to sustain this throughout. The author also does a great job at combining futuristic technology with African traditions and religious practices in a way that doesn’t seem incongruous. My only qualm with this book was that at times the story was a little hard to follow, but I do think it’s worth preserving because you stand to gain so much from reading it.
Think James Bond with a sprinkle of the extraterrestrial. Loved it, would highly recommend.