Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
|Publisher(s):||Hodder & Stoughton (UK)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Ebook|
|Release Date:||April 10, 2014 (UK)|
For financial reasons, I like to wait until paperback releases for a lot of books. Most of the time this isn’t a big deal. Other times (and it’s been happening more frequently) I end up waiting for a book released in the UK to be released in the US. I can usually wait for official releases in my country but for Lagoon I had no patience whatsoever. It had a cool cover, an awesome author whose previous works I loved and a US release date for later this year. This was unacceptable and I regret nothing for getting it sooner rather than later.
In short, Lagoon is about aliens arriving in Lagos, Nigeria and the upheaval that ensues shortly thereafter. Four outwardly normal people find themselves in the thick of the changes, both small and large.
In structure, I was reminded very much of the Day the Earth Stood Still from the 1960s, except that I liked Lagoon better. The alien comes from their otherspace with the mission of making people better, but people are frequently jerks to anything different and it all goes horribly wrong before it starts to go right. The primary perspectives are focused less on “OMG Aliens!” and more “How are we going to get through this mass of panicked people without grave bodily harm?” I loved the pacing and how the characters’ worry maintained tension through the parts where they tried to catch their breaths with regard to what just happened and what they needed to do next.
I loved how relatable the characters were. If anything, the dynamic currents of the human characters is what separates Lagoon from so many other “aliens have landed” narratives. The changes that take place in Anthony, Agu, and Adaora as they try to get the alien Ayodele to the Nigerian president. The wide variety of reactions that people have to Ayodele, and her shapeshifting, run the gamut from panic to religious witch-hunt to wonderment depending on the person.
The reactions to the upheaval surrounding the sudden appearance of people from the sea range from opportunistic to noble. The story splits off in multiple directions to look at how those people who are not at the center of events react and adapt to the ways their world changes. Adaora’s struggles with her husband’s recent religious bent, her resistance to his attempts to force her into familial roles he finds “appropriate,” and her efforts to do right by her children with regards to their safety and their ties to their father’s family were especially moving.
I also liked the ambiguity as to where Ayodele and her kin came from. It never felt clear and I loved how it was considered immaterial to all parties involved because when confronted with non-human folks who are asking to talk instead of scouring and terraforming, where they came from is a secondary concern to all parties. I also liked that such minutiae as cellphone videos and internet videos were made heavy reference to, something that most sci-fi movies conveniently forget as a plot device. It lent a shot of plausibility that is too often overlooked.
Lagoon is a wonderfully contemporary look at how people react when confronted with the unknown on a massive scale, with all the personal character changes and challenges I could hope for. I loved reading Lagoon and it is definitely going on my reread circuit.