Lagoon (Nnedi Okorafor)

28 September 2022


Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria's legendary mega-city, they're more alone than they've ever been before.

But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world... and themselves.

'There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.'

Average Rating:

Ross Hetherington (6 March 2023 16:40)

This is a novel I would definitely recommend, even though I did find it with quite a few flaws. I loved learning so much about Lagos, and Nigeria in general, which I thought this novel did excellently. I also liked the style very much. It was actually quite slow to get going, which I really liked in this case - the reactions of the people involved all seemed very realistic and lent alot of believability to how the situation played out. And somehow, whether intentionally or not, it was all quite funny. Well, that's what life is like - good job! There was alot of crazy stuff in this novel, and I didn't really mind as it seemed set up for a sequel. But some of the set pieces I think needed a bit more oopmh in the writing - they were quite strikingly horrific when thought through, but you had to think them through. I was a bit non-plussed with the aliens - apart from the noise they made when they transformed, they just seemed fairly generic "God-like with nanobots" which is getting to be a bit of a cliche, I feel.

You know what, after writing all this, it's got itself an extra star. I'd forgot how much I liked the first half of the novel.

Sinclair Manson (30 September 2022 20:05)

In her afterword, the author traces the genesis of Lagoon to anger at the portrayal of Nigerians in District 9, and coming through strongly in this novel was a love for Nigeria, specifically Lagos, but an open eyed love that didn't deny what is wicked or difficult. The ambiguously moral aliens choose Lagos for its vitality and the novel overflows accordingly. Extra terrestrials, gods and superheroes come teeming like mutant sealife. Petty criminals, politicians, evangelists and LGBTQ activists slosh around in their wake.

Sometimes it felt like too much and I found I enjoyed the story more in its individual parts than as a whole. There were some great vignettes of incidental characters caught up in the chaos, but with so many strands the whole thing felt like it might fly into mess at any moment and inevitably some were cut unsatisfyingly short.