It feels almost miserly only giving Rosewater 3 stars but, while there was a lot I really liked about it, the fact that it's a) the first book of a trilogy and so doesn't really have an ending of its own, and b) that it jumps about between time periods and didn't quite work for me as a coherent narrative meant I ended up knocking at least one star off for just those two things.
There's also a lot to like about the book as a whole, particularly that the author manages to take a protagonist (Kaaro) who is pretty unlikeable and make you care about what happens to him. Because, make no bones about it, there's a lot not to like about Kaaro as we work our way through his history and the surrounding world-building of the book. For much of the storyline, he's pretty immature and makes at least one decision (though he seems to have some insight as he gets older about this) with his penis rather than any other part of his body. Secondly, as someone who works for a shadowy secret agency and also has mental powers whose source we discover as the storyline moves along, he's actively involved in interrogations.
Rosewater is set in a near-present day world where there has been alien contact on a number of occasions, the most recent being in Nigeria where something has fallen from the sky and built a dome that occasionally opens. When it opens, people are healed but not always in a way which is positive for them and also the recent dead are brought back to life, but as zombies. There's been previous contact with the same aliens and there's mention of London being devastated by a landing in Hyde Park and the US having chosen to shut itself off from the rest of the world as a result, but these are background details.
Kaaro discovers, as the book goes on, that not only do his powers actually come from a previous alien landing but that everyone else he knows with similar abilities is dying. He is, effectively, the last man standing for no apparent reason, like it or not. In fact, the entire world is changing as the alien influence begins to take over and human cells are literally replaced by alien ones in a larger and larger amount of people. The sequels are about resisting that change, with The Rosewater Insurrection being due out next year. Not sure if I'll read it, unless I can either get it from the library or free for review, as while I enjoyed reading Rosewater and it certainly kept me turning the pages, it didn't 100% work for me for the reasons mentioned at the start of this review.
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.