Lagoon - Nnedi Okorafor

Last year, I created a reading list of 23 books for 2015 which were either already published that year or were due to be, and so far (especially with the help of my local library system) I've read 16 of those - as I write this I have 2 others from that list in my possession and am working on getting the rest. Lagoon was one of those books, as I'd read one of this authors previous books (Who Fears Death) and know that anything from Nnedi Okorafor is always going to be worth reading.

 

Lagoon is, in some ways, a classic First Contact novel - aliens come to Earth and encounter humanity, which behaves either very well or very badly, depending on the author's point of view of how this would probably go down. What makes Lagoon more interesting than that, though, is the way in which all of this happens and also the place. Landing in the ocean off the coast of Nigeria, these particular aliens first come across the sea life of the planet and start changing them, long before they make any contact with human beings.

 

The first contact takes place just off a beach in Lagos, when three people are swept into the sea and encounter Ayodele, or at least that's the name one of these three gives her. Our protagonists are a marine biologist, a soldier and a rapper, all of whom we subsequently discover already have some kind of power that can't be explained, which seems to be why the aliens chose them in the first place. Initially, Ayodele is happy to go along with whatever Adaora, the marine biologist, proposes and lets her run various tests, but it soon becomes clear that the arrival of something alien hasn't gone unnoticed.

 

Lagos itself, or its people as a whole with their various interests and beliefs, is also a character in the story. Adaora's husband has recently become a convert to evangelical Christianity, so the people of his church become involved in what is going on, as do the military and members of the public. We even get a couple of short chapters from the perspective of animals who have been effected by the arrival of the aliens, even as things start looking like they will go horrifically wrong after violent events take place.

 

In the same way as Who Fears Death, this is one of those books which I'm very glad I've read but can't see myself reading again. Still, I recommend it to anyone who's interested in seeing just what's good in SFF nowadays.