April 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, )

roseRosewater by Tade Thompson


Rosewater is the story of an alien invasion. This is a common trope in science fiction, but Thompson has created something unique in this book. For one, the thrust of the invasion isn’t made clear in the story, or for the characters in the book, enough so that it reminded me a little of Roadside Picnic, in that the aliens seem to disregard the human being all together. For another, Thompson doesn’t make the heart of the story about the invasion; instead, he makes it about the main character, Kaaro, and his journey of discovery.

The story isn’t the easiest to read, though that’s not because Thompson’s style is obtuse. He structures the story around a mixed timeline, jumping into the story in the present day, and then flashing back to give us more clues to the overall mystery. They work well together, but it’s important to pay attention to the chapter headers so you know which timeline you’re in. In addition, there are some psychedelic scenes that are harder to keep straight, just because of the atmosphere Thompson creates for them.

Kaaro, our protagonist, isn’t the most likable character, either. This seems to be a trend in Thompson’s works. Molly Southbourne wasn’t the easiest character to like, and Weston Kogi’s questionable morality made him harder to sympathize with, so when Kaaro came across as selfish and self-absorbed, I wasn’t that surprised. He fits the story, though, and his character arc is satisfying, so it’s hard to complain too much. I just know some readers prefer protagonists who are easier to like.

For all that, though, the story flows naturally. The exposition is fantastic, as the plot, premise, and characters all develop at the speed of the story. You won’t know everything at the start of the book, or even at the end of the first chapter, but that’s just fine. You’ll have to pay attention, but luckily, Thompson creates a vivid world and a strong plot to keep you reading. I think I may have enjoyed The Murders of Molly Southbourne more, but Rosewater is the more impressive work. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes speculative fiction.

Started: January 9, 2018
Finished: January 13, 2018

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