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Lagoon Paperback

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; Unabridged edition
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444762753
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444762754
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In LAGOON, Nnedi Okorafor poses the question: what if first contact with aliens took place not in New York, London, or Tokyo, but the beach city of Lagos, Nigeria? The answer is something that is both utterly human and uniquely African. In addition to stunning detail of both city and marine life, Okorafor fills this novel with a dozen points of view, but rather than confusing the narrative, those sections allow the reader to experience all sides of the encounter that leads to some of Nigeria's darkest days, and to understand why different people react so differently to something `alien.'

It's pretty rare to find sci-fi and fantasy that isn't Western-centric, and even rarer to find genre fiction built around African culture, both past and present. That alone is a great reason to read this book, but what really makes LAGOON special is the way Okorafor writes Lagos, making the city itself one of the main characters. She doesn't try to glorify Nigeria, or denigrate it, but writes about a real place full of real people that, in many ways, could be any city in the world. There are so many wonderful scenes of powers, people's reactions, and Okorafor even gives a voice to the marine life in the titular lagoon. The Pidgin English sections are a little hard to translate, but Okorafor stands by the submersion method, and I did get the hang of it after awhile.

It's a challenging book in many respects, including the language and the scattered PoVs. Normally, I'm not a fan of novels that leave unanswered questions, or present a situation without explaining its cause, but in this case, I liked the pragmatism. It's not about figuring out where the aliens come from so they can be sent packing, or even investigating why they're here.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Science fiction is often used to explore real world issues, anxieties, and hopes. Lagoon is no exception. Through the use of an alien invasion, the author brings into sharp relief Nigeria’s chaos, brutality, and desperation, but also the resilience, perseverance, and ingenuity of Nigerians. The current crisis in the country spawned by the extremist sect Boko Haram gives the book a timeliness its author and publisher may not have anticipated. Many northern Nigerians probably feel as if they are experiencing an alien invasion in real life, as Boko Haram is as threatening as any extraterrestrial.

Brilliantly imaginative, the book nonetheless is firmly rooted in the realities faced by ordinary people in Nigeria. These are revealed throughout the work as the three main characters cope with visitors from another world. Daily life is difficult and stressful. Agu, the soldier, comments after witnessing an eruption of street violence, “The alien invasion was just an excuse to let it all out.” Generalized anger finds expression, one way or another. Of all the portraits sketched in the book, that of Father Oke is perhaps the most compelling. It reveals the dubious character of some, (not all), of Nigeria’s large population of clergy, who at times take advantage of the very people they are supposed to help.

Corruption tops the list of ills Okorafor targets. The President, she writes, “found himself powerless to fight against Nigeria’s soul-crushing corruption. Whenever he tried to make changes, people around him were always trying to drain some sort of shady profit from his efforts.” Fake contracts bled money from programs intended to aid the disadvantaged.

Near the end of the book Father Oke states his belief that the Fin Bank in Lagos is evil.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Extraterrestrials land in Lagos, Nigeria. They send an ambassador and choose three people from the locals to help them reach the authorities. Whether aliens, Americans or an atomic bomb fell into their midst, the people would behave the same way: panicking, violent, greedy, crazy, observant, compassionate, interested, ignorant. I liked the way the book was written, dragging the reader into the midst of the events, with all the strangeness and local flavour, presenting everything objectively and compassionately at the same time, with many voices, denouncing corruption but expressing faith in the future of Lagos.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Like the alien invasion in Lagoon, this book is like a foreign invasion into the minds of its readers. Like the alien invasion that transforms every Lagosian into something new and better, this book, with its wonderful foreign characters and setting, will transform every reader. Lagoon will immerse you in the wonderful waters of its fiction and when you'll emerge, you will be, like its characters, changed and so much richer.
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Format: Paperback
I won my copy of Lagoon through a giveaway from Tor.

Lagoon is such a beautiful book. Nnedi Okorafor does a wonderful job mixing mystical aspects of Nigerian culture and history into a first contact story with a fascinating extraterrestrial species, while keeping it grounded and personal by telling the tale mostly through three seemingly normal people whose worlds are turned around at the arrival of a new species. I loved all the various characters, seeing how each reacted to what was happening. There are people firmly grounded in the older ways who thought anything out of the ordinary must be caused by a witch. There are scientists who struggled to understand what they were seeing and feeling. There are soldiers of every sort. We have a popular rapper from Ghana who was very different from his onstage persona. We have the various animal species, especially those in the waters around Lagos. And we have the new species who emerge from their ship and set off all the various events that unfold.

I found Lagoon very difficult to put down. For the most part the chapters were very short, and they flowed so well. After finishing one it was so easy to just read one more, then another. The author created characters that seemed very real. It was easy to get sucked into their stories, feel their excitement, fear, anger, at the unfolding events. It all had a very mythic feel to it. I was sometimes reminded of Neil Gaiman stories. I did occasionally struggle with the Pidgin English scattered throughout the book, but that was minor. This was a fun read.
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