Rosewater by Tade Thompson

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Rosewater by Tade Thompson

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Buy Rosewater by Tade Thompson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: A refreshingly different and powerfully written addition to the cyberpunk and alien invasion genres, and well worth a read if you're a fan of William Gibson and Jeff VanderMeer.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 416 Date: September 2018
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-0356511368

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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 rumoured 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 realisation about a horrifying future.

Our protagonist is Kaaro, a former thief turned government agent. Kaaro is what's known as a 'Sensitive', essentially a telepath. He works as an interrogator, attempting to get inside the heads of criminals in order to deduce whether or not they're guilty of the crimes they're accused of. He is quite rude, rebellious and sarcastic, but is ultimately trying to do the right thing and trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of why his kind are going extinct. He does have echoes of Case, the protagonist of William Gibson's Neuromancer, so fans of his work may like this book.

One of the book's major strengths is its setting, Nigeria in the mid-21st century. The book's depiction of 2050s/60s Nigeria is not exactly very flattering, but it is refreshingly different and does mention the various problems within Nigerian society. Poverty is still widespread despite people having access to the internet, ethnic cleansing (particularly between the Yoruba and Igbo people) is still quite common, vigilante justice is doled out via 'necklacing' (the victim has a tire placed around their neck, is doused in petrol and then set on fire, a practice used a lot in Apartheid-era South Africa), homosexuality is still illegal, and there are many families who lock away mentally ill children. It is quite obvious that the coming of Rosewater has done nothing to improve Nigerian society.

Rosewater itself has become a Lourdes-esque location, where the ill flock to in order to be healed. However, there are some downsides to Rosewater's power, such as its ability to resurrect the dead. While that may seem like a good thing, it is most definitely not, since the Reanimates are just. There are also what's known as the Reconstructed, people who use Rosewater's power to modify themselves, sometimes in grotesque ways. This is an effective storytelling device, since it shows that even a miraculous power that can heal all ailments has unintended side-effects and people looking to abuse that power.

In conclusion, this is a refreshingly different and powerfully written addition to the cyberpunk and alien invasion genres, and well worth a read if you're a fan of William Gibson and Jeff VanderMeer.

Buy Rosewater by Tade Thompson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rosewater by Tade Thompson at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Rosewater by Tade Thompson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rosewater by Tade Thompson at Amazon.com.

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