It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.
After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.
Alien invasion and mystical gods meet religious zealotry and political corruption in Okorafor's thrilling hybrid of SF, fantasy, and horror. On a January night in Lagos, Nigeria, three strangers cross paths on the beach just before a sonic boom reverberates throughout the city, heralding the arrival of an alien species. Swept away by a tidal wave that delivers them to the aliens' underwater compound, Adaora, Agu, and Anthony discover they've been chosen to facilitate the assimilation of their peace-seeking otherworldly visitors. But when the task is met with violence and hysteria, the uneasy ambassadors realize that the threat to humankind's survival stems from humankind's own failings. Okorafor (The Book of Phoenix) deftly weaves together Nigerian culture and themes of enlightenment and salvation, and the action adroitly veers from blood-curdling horror to the edge of absurdity, lifting up a fast-paced and already fascinating narrative to dizzying heights. Every member of the robust cast of characters even those who only briefly cross the page imbues the story with an irresistible combination of pathos and humor. Okorafor's magical world stuns and satisfies.
Nnedi weaves an amazing story. I was drawn to the science fiction theme of Lagoon. What I usually find lacking in alien invasion stories is the presence of authentic human reaction. I did not have that problem with this story. Lagoon had me frightened of this alien race to the point I had to pause reading the story. I could picture what it would be like to have something so incredible change everything that you know about the world but also resurrect every myth. The action in the story is captivating and the characters are absolutely relatable. My favorite bits of the story were the narratives of the creatures and animals that had been changed. I also loved how Nnedi painted an image of Nigeria so clearly. I feel like I’ve been there and I understand the nuances of the culture. I can’t wait to read all her novels.