Rosewater by Tade Thompson is a sci fi novel set in Nigeria in the year 2066, about a secret agent(of sort) with special abilities whose colleagues are being mysteriously killed one by one. These are individuals who have the same abilities as the main character and are the people he trained with.
The main character Kaaro is a very complex and interesting character and as the story goes on we discover so many hidden doors with regards to what he’s been through in life and his current predicament. Kaaro works two jobs; firstly he works for a bank as a bank fraud specialist. He’s basically a anti virus software in human form keeping out fraudsters. His second job however is much more complicated; Kaaro works for a secret organisation known as S45 his boss is someone called Femi Alaagomeji. S45 recruited him and others many years ago due to their special ability of being able to form a “mind link” with individuals in order to gain information from their memories and thoughts. Kaaro is therefore known as a “finder” due to his ability to find things from people’s minds and memories.
Through these memories Kaaro is able to extract key information for S45 and as we learn from the book information for his own selfishness. In addition to this, Kaaro has the ability to enter a place known as the “Xenosphere”. This place is dream world which Kaaro can enter in the form of a Gryphon.
If you think that’s complicated there is more! A mysterious alien entity has taken home in Rosewater in the shape of a biodome. Rosewater is now erected around this biodome which opens every year and has the ability to remove health ailments from individuals when they enter. However, there is always a catch “the alien can restore the body but not the soul”. The biodome unexpectedly brings back the dead to life within the biodomes vicinity. Basically, they are reanimated flesh, their hearts may be beating and they may have normal functioning bodies but there is no life within them.
I really really liked the character of Kaaro, he is a very interesting and intriguing person. I enjoyed his cheekiness especially with his boss Femi, the banter between the stern and serious Femi and the cocky non serious Kaaro was hilarious at many points. I also felt Kaaros frustration at working for S45, he doesn’t enjoy it one bit and is fed up of it. However, the introduction of his girlfriend Aminat and her mysterious brother was great. It really changes the dynamic of Kaaros life and his second job as it’s been a while since he’s had someone special in his life. Before Aminat Kaaro’s main focus was his work and S45. However, Aminat gives him a reason to think more about his future. Although, Kaaro and Aminat love each other but are hiding things from one another. This makes it more intriguing to see what exactly is going to happen between the two. There are lots of funny moments between the couple, my favourite part between the two was when an old friend of Kaaros asks her why she’s with him. Her reply is hilarious as she says “I am only with him for the sex”. I couldn’t stop laughing and had to share this with my friends 😂.
Anyway, there are so many interesting characters, there’s not one that shouldn’t have been in the book. I felt all of them brought something to the story. I also really liked the fact that Kaaro knows that he’s done shitty things, he knows he’s not a good person and doesn’t want to be “the hero”. I felt this made him feel more real and a likeable protagonist.
In addition to this, the story was absolutely fantastic. I felt as if my mind had been blown into tiny particles because there are so many “holy shit” and “oh my god” moments. The world Tade Thompson has created in the first book of the Wormword trilogy is like a cross between one of my favourite anime’s “Ghost in A Shell” and The Netflix series “Sense8”. I also really liked how it was set in Nigeria where in this period technology has evolved and people have evolved I.e. metal heads who people with augmentations and brain implants. Moreover, I thought it was great that the story took place in Nigeria throughout the whole premise. The use of the Yoruba language and cultural elements made it feel more real. In addition to this, the story goes back and forth between the past and present. Although confusing at times I thought it was an important aspect in order to learn more about Kaaro and his background. It really shows how he evolves as a person and how he copes with certain events.
In terms of weaknesses, the only one I can think of is the sudden timeline shifts. Sometimes when the main timeline got exciting i was like “urghhh I just wanna know what happens”. But in saying that I think it was needed to let the leader learn more about Kaaro’s history.
Overall, Rosewater oozes Sci fi! It oozes those sci fi movies and anime’s I loved growing up(Blade Runner, Alien, The Sphere, Ghost in A Shell). I have to thank Tade Thompson for writing this book, it was just wow honestly. There are so many bad ass and memorable moments throughout the novel that I have bookmarked them so that never forget. I think if you love Sci Fi you can’t give this book a miss! Tade Thompson is a fantastic writer and I am not surprised he won the Inaugrial Nommo Award for Best Novel. I can’t wait for the second book!