Novel: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

February 2, 2016

Nnedi Okorafor’s novel Lagoon (2015) is an intriguing, enjoyable read that, with its wide array of viewpoints and fragmented sub-stories, feels like a mosaic. Set in Lagos, Nigeria, the tale centers around an alien species that settles in the Atlantic waters just off the coast, and the three humans who first encounter them. Adaora is a marine biologist, Agu is a soldier in the Nigerian army, and Anthony Dey Craze is a famous rapper from nearby¬†Ghana. By chance and fate, the three of them come together, and are the first to confront the aliens’ primary emissary, Ayodele, an alien in human form. The aliens’ motives are unclear at first, but as the heroes unravel the mystery, one thing quickly becomes clear: life in Nigeria, and the world, will never be the same.

Okorafor’s inviting, deceptively simple writing style makes Lagoon a smooth, bracing read, even as its narrative jumps perspectives, restlessly exploring tangents and expanding the scope. While I’m wasn’t always convinced the author was in full command of the plot, the scenes nonetheless have an impressive cumulative effect. The setting and cultural milieu are refreshing, but so is the unpredictable blend of genre elements: aliens, super powers, myth, magic, and more. These disparate components combine to form a unique, memorable, and unexpected work, both¬†an exciting genre adventure and a thought-provoking political allegory.