When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.
Told from multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.
‘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.’
So, this was the first book from my post on SFF by Black Women that I managed to read, and I loved it! As the synopsis says, it focuses on three people who happen to be in the same place at the wrong time and how they cope with the fact that an alien ship has landed just off the coast of Lagos. Each of the three have a mysterious power that will help them in this adventure.
The three characters lives become intertwined as they work to find the missing president and deal with one of the aliens. The story jumps around a lot, between different POVs including even those of sea creatures dealing with the changes the ship has brought to them.
One thing I really loved about this book was the setting. So many books have the first contact as being in the USA or the UK and so it was really refreshing to see it located somewhere else and how it differs. The book itself mentions how if it were the USA, the government would have rushed in and controlled everything while in Nigeria the main characters actually have a chance of getting the alien to meet with the president. The book also includes dialogue in pidgin English which helps with the immersion and there was a useful glossary at the back which helped make sense of a lot of it. Finally, the book also included several LGBT+ characters although they didn’t appear too much in the novel and were mostly just in a few scenes. I would have liked to have seen more of them and found out what happened to them, but the focus was more on the aliens rather than on them.
I would definitely recommend this book – it was really refreshing and an excellent novel dealing with “first contact”. I really enjoyed the writing and would definitely like to read more of Nnedi’s work – especially Binti as I’ve heard so many great things about it.