Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor


by Nnedi Okorafor
Genres: Science Fiction
Published on 2014
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover Source: Library
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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.

Something strange is happening off the coast of Lagos.  The fish are changing.  The water is changing.  The oil isn’t flowing.

They’ve been having a bad night.  Adaora’s increasingly irrationally jealous husband hit her.  She fought back and was able to easily pin him to the ground.  She fled to the beach.  Anthony was doing a show but needed to clear his head so he went for a walk.  Agu almost killed his fellow soldiers when they decided to rape a woman.  He is running from retribution.

The three humans are brought together and then taken offshore.  They return different and with a visitor.

First contact with an alien species doesn’t go well.  Everyone has an angle.  Adaora’s husband’s pastor wants to convert the aliens to his form of Christianity.  Some people want to kidnap it for a huge ransom.  The army wants to capture the aliens.

The aliens decide that they really don’t like humans.

I like the fact that the aliens don’t contact humans until after they’ve been in discussion with the animals in the ocean to see what would make them happy.  Bats and spiders get enlightenment too but humans are a problem for them.

The humans are a problem for everyone.  There is rioting after the aliens take over all communication to announce that they are here.  With the city in chaos it is up to the humans who the aliens first contacted to show what humanity can be and it act as witnesses to what it will become.

The story is told from multiple points of view including people from all levels of society.  There are wealthy people and prostitutes and pick pockets and church people.  The city of Lagos comes across as an important character.  The mythology of the area also plays a role and gives the story a bit of a folktale feel in addition to sci-fi.

Okorafor’s books aren’t hopeful about the future of humanity.  Her characters are always surrounded by greed and evil and stupidity.  The hope in her books comes from outside forces changing people to be better.  The writing draws you into the story and keeps you engaged until the end.

There is also a quick The Gods Must Be Crazy reference that made me laugh out loud.


Public domain from NOAA

Imagine what the fish would become if they had their wildest desires granted!