Book Review: THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION by Tade Thompson

(Title: The Rosewater Insurrection / Author: Tade Thompson / Publisher: Orbit / Publication Date: March 12, 2019)

I've had the good fortune of reading some incredible books so far this year, one of them being Rosewater by Tade Thompson.  The book was a fantastic Science-Fiction story that takes place in the very unique setting of Nigeria some forty years in the future.  I was so immersed in the book that I blew through it in about two weeks.  Considering my busy schedule, that is truly saying something.  So when I was also given the opportunity of reading and reviewing the sequel THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION, I simply had to jump right back into this story as soon as possible.  I would like to thank the good people at Orbit again for being so gracious in providing me a review copy.  Now without further delay, on to a brief description and my subsequent thoughts.

The story picks up not too long after the events of the first book.  This time however, instead of Kaaro being the main POV character, it is his girlfriend and government agent Aminat.  The makeshift town of Rosewater continues to grow in population as pilgrims from every corner of the world come to be healed of their ailments.  The problem is the biodome at Rosewater's center seems to be dying ever so slowly, leaving their hopes of a reversal of their maladies very much in doubt.  Added to the disorder of the growing masses and the decaying biodome is the specter of Rosewater's charismatic mayor Jack Jacques and his movement to declare independence for Rosewater.  This understandably doesn't sit very well with the President of Nigeria, and a violent conflict is almost certain to arise between the two political forces.  

Meanwhile, a local woman named Alyssa awakens to find that she has no recollection of her husband and daughter.  As a matter of fact she can't really remember much of anything at all.  Why she can't remember her past is a mystery that she spends the majority of the story attempting to discover, eventually finding herself on the radar of the government's secret agency S45 and Aminat in particular.  Could she somehow be connected with the strange alien Wormwood and the extra-terrestrial forces that reside within Rosewater's biodome?  As that scenario plays out we are introduced to Eric, an unwilling minor employee of S45 who is basically ordered to assassinate the mayor of Rosewater Jack Jacques to put an end to his ambitious plans to break free from Nigerian government control.  Eric really has no choice as his only other option is death at the hands of his employers.  All of these various storylines alternate between chapters.  

Unlike Rosewater where the story was told almost exclusively through the eyes of Kaaro, THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION tells the tale through numerous POV switching.  As the story progresses, we definitely get a bigger background behind the alien entity at the heart of Rosewater and Wormwood has more of a center-stage role than in the previous book.  The mystery of Wormwood's origin is hinted at, definitely tantalizing us for a potential huge reveal in the final book.  As for Aminat and Kaaro, they are still very much in love, very much a powerful couple, and very much determined to get answers to what the aliens' plans are for Nigeria and the entirety of Earth.  

I've been living in Tade Thompson's Rosewater for the better part of a month and I have to say that I'm a little depressed that I don't have book three to pick up immediately.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait for that one a little while longer, but meanwhile, let me opine on the many virtues of THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION.  This book was almost night and day in style compared to the first one.  I think I was a bit thrown off at first by the multiple POVs just because I was so used to Kaaro being the main character.  After I became acclimated with it though, I just settled in and let the story take hold of me.  

There was so much going on in this story and it really served to clear up some nagging questions from the first book that were lingering in my mind.  Jack Jacques and his independence movement is much more of a player in this one, as intimated by the INSURRECTION part of the title.  I enjoyed reading the flashbacks in the story that showed how he essentially charmed his way from a small-time figure to a major political leader by connecting with the people of Rosewater on a very personal level.  With regard to the characters, Aminat is one of the strongest female characters in any SF story that I have read.  I was happy to see her get the majority of the spotlight in THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION because I think that she is a very compelling and interesting character.  It was gratifying to get to see some more of what she is all about.  

My only minor beef with this book was that the switching of POVs was a little distracting in the beginning and it took me a while to adjust from the first book.  I think part of that had to do with the fact that I began this book the day after I finished the first one and I was used to that story structure.  But other than that I believe that this was more than a solid follow up to Rosewater and it set up the last book in the series quite nicely.  I really recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a unique, thought-provoking SF read that has deep, complex characters and an alien mystery that makes you keep turning the pages feverishly.  A great second installment in the Wormwood Trilogy that makes me eager to get my hands on the final book.  Read it now, you won't regret it.

(My Rating: 8/10)