READ THE WORLD – Nigeria: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

lagoon elenasquareeyesOne night three strangers meet on the beach outside Lagos. Adaora, a marine biologist, Anthony, a world-famous rapper, and Agu, a troubled solider – three people who feel alone in the world who are suddenly going to become bound together. When a meteorite hits the ocean and a tidal wave pulls them into the water, they discover a whole new world and people. Together with the mysterious and shapeshifting alien Ayodele, they are on a race against time to save the city and themselves.

Lagoon was an interesting read. It combines science fiction and what could be a typical “alien invasion” story with the politics, religion and folklore. Having a story about an alien encounter in any country that’s not the USA is unusual, and the author blends the people of Nigeria and this amazing event together. The people act like anyone would, they are scared, some are violent, some turn to religion, but it’s the language used in Lagoon that makes it different.

Lagoon was a bit tough to read some times. It jumps around from different characters without always giving you any indication who the character is. When you follow the four main characters Adaora, Anthony, Agu and Ayodele it’s easy to follow and they are great characters to read about but then there’s sometimes people who you are with for only a chapter or two which is a bit odd and disjointing. Adaora was my favourite character (she’s smart and level-headed which I liked a lot) but even she couldn’t pull me through it sometimes. I especially had trouble when there were chapters from the perspective of characters who spoke in Pidgin English, it was a language that I had to really concentrate on understanding. Also some characters and actions, while understandable because they were scared of a potential alien threat, were frustrating which put me off.

The writing in Lagoon is something you’ll either love or hate. While it is mainly written in the third person there’s also chapters written in the first and second person which always feel a bit weird when you get to them. That does seem to be intentional though as the whole book is weird and the creatures you see briefly are often strange and unnatural. Also while the writing is often pretty simple the way it uses a lot of magical realism and symbolism makes things feel unsettling.

Lagoon is a sci-fi book full of magical realism and odd creatures, it won’t be for everyone and I found it a bit tough to get through at times, but it does have some wonderful ideas. 3/5.


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