Book Review: The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 2 of The Wormwood Trilogy
Publisher: Orbit (March 12, 2019)
Length: 416 pages
I was happy to find that The Rosewater Insurrection was as weird and wonderful as its predecessor. In many ways, I even got along better with it because the story was slightly simpler and easier to follow, and it also features one of my favorite characters from the first book as the protagonist.
This time, we get to ride along with Aminat while her lover Kaaro, the main character from the first book, takes on a more supporting role. This sequel brings us back to Rosewater, the Nigerian city which has sprung up around the dome-like alien lifeform known as Wormwood. The country’s political climate is thrown into chaos as Jack Jacques, Rosewater’s mayor, makes a brash attempt at declaring independence, antagonizing the president of Nigeria who is not about to stand for such noncompliance.
Meanwhile, in a quiet neighborhood one morning, a woman named Alyssa Sutcliffe wakes up in her home with no memory of who or where she is. The man sleeping beside her, presumably her husband if the photos around the house are any indication, is a stranger and she has no recollection of them ever getting married. There is also a daughter, whom Alyssa does not recognize at all, and she can’t even remember ever giving birth. A trip to the doctor finds nothing wrong with her physically, but alerts others who might have an idea of why she is experiencing such strange memory loss. Working as a government agent, Aminat is charged with finding Alyssa for her possible part in a greater fight to save the human race even as shadowy factions conspire to keep a rising alien threat secret.
In The Rosewater Insurrection, Tade Thompson continues to expand the world of his series, peeling back even more layers to explore the inner workings of this strange and fascinating setting. Even after two books, the novelty has not faded for me; I still feel as amazed as ever by the incredible world-building as well as the author’s unique take on the concept of alien first contact and invasion. As you’d recall, it’s a particularly insidious kind of takeover, involving the slow and gradual replacement of human cells with xenoform biology, which infuses this series with a subtle eeriness that is very effective. Due to some of the events in this book, the sense of danger feels much less abstract this time around, becoming more imminent—and more personal, in a way—ramping up the intensity of the suspense and action.
Following in the tradition of Rosewater, this sequel is also told via multiple POVs with a narrative that jumps around in time. While I’m still not the biggest fan of the non-linear storytelling, my experience with the first book had primed me for what to expect in this follow-up, and admittedly, the plot is intriguing enough that I would be willing to give these novels a pass on anything. Plus, I loved our new characters. As much as I enjoyed following Kaaro’s point-of-view in the previous installment, I was excited when I discovered that Aminat was going to be the protagonist in this one. We got to see a deeper side of her here, and together with Alyssa the two of them made an efficient team even when their interests didn’t always align. The mercurial Jack Jacques was also a perspective character, his inconstant motivations presenting yet another puzzle piece in this ever-widening mosaic of events.
It’s difficult to say much more about this book, not only because of obvious reasons involving spoilers but because there’s also the complexity of the plot to consider. There’s a strange kind of beauty about these novels that’s hard to put into words, an uncanny perfection in how all these different parts come together. Needless to say, Tade Thompson somehow connects all these various elements and and makes them work in balance and synergy. All in all, The Rosewater Insurrection is a masterfully well-crafted sequel that ties together plot threads while further expanding the world to prepare for even greater revelations in the coming finale.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Rosewater (Book 1)