Book Review: Rosewater by Tade Thompson


31228637Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Publisher: Apex

Length: 364 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: November 15rd 2016




Publisher’s description

“Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro’s life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a woman known as Bicycle Girl. And that’s just the beginning.

An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The citizens of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn’t so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.”

Book Review

I read Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor about the same time last year and even though I enjoyed it, a lot of things went over my head. However, I have come to really appreciate Okorafor’s writing and ideas after reading four of her works last year  and when I saw on Netgalley that Rosewater, another book about the aftermath of an alien invasion in Lagos, Nigeria, I was sold. Also, it helped that I had previously read a really good story by Thompson ( The Apologists, Interzone #266) two weeks prior and that one of my favorite bloggers Tammy at Books Bones & Buffy did an amazing review of it and put this title in her list of favorite books of 2016.

So, of course, I had to request it immediately.

Well, I’m happy to say that I really, really loved this book and that it put me in a very good reading mood, I now have the feelings that I’m going to read great things in 2017!

This book follows Karoo, an incredibly frustrating character that manages to have every aspects I usually dislike in characters ( he’s a coward, mysogynist and selfish) but that I couldn’t help but to root for. Karoo feels so humans that even if he’s frustrating because of all his flaws, they made him look more relatable because, even if we don’t want to, I think that everyone can see themselves in him.

As I said, this book follows the aftermath of an alien invasion in Nigeria, after their arrival, the aliens decided to live under a dome near to Lagos. This city is now called Utopicity by the inhabitants of Rosewater, a city that surrounds the alien dome. Every year, the dome opens and fills the air with a substance that can heal every illness, even death.

The arrival of the aliens gave some people called sensitives the ability to access the xenosphere, an organic network that allows all of them to access information. Karoo is a finder, a type of sensitive who can sense people’s thoughts and feel their connections to what is dear to them. Because of that, he now works for a government agency, Section 45 that uses him as an interrogater. His life is pretty miserable because everyone want to use him for something and even if his job made him extremely rich, he’s always alone and sad. When he thought that his life couldn’t be worse, he learns that sensitives are getting killed off by a mysterious virus and that he might be the next in line.

I thought the concept of this story was amazing, I was hooked right at the beginning of the story and I really liked discovering things about Karoo and the alien invasion. This book has an interesting structure since it jumps between three time lines and they all allows us to get a grasp on what’s happening. Non-linear stories can confusing when they aren’t done well but it wasn’t the case here, everything worked really well, I wasn’t bored or confused at all and it was hard to put the book down.

The writing was really good, I recently described on of his short story, The Apologists (Interzone #266) as “brutal and fascinating” and those terms can be applied to Rosewater. Thompson doesn’t hold back and some passages can be quite explicit and bloody. As a reader, I liked to be pushed out of my confort zone and Rosewater definitely did that, if you had any doubt on how much humans can be inventive in matters of cruelty and torture, this might surprise you.

In my opinion, Rosewater is required reading for everyone who call themselves SF readers, it’s definitely very different from what’s currently on the market and it’s pretty weird and disturbing but it’s fantastic.

Highly recommended, I can’t wait to read Making Wolf, his award winning debut.


I received a copy of this books from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Apex, all opinions are my own.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Rosewater by Tade Thompson

  1. Been hearing some great things about this book (I saw the amazing review on Tammy’s blog as well) and it’s so exciting to see your review echo all that praise. Definitely putting this on my reading list now, the growing Mount TBR be damned!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s