Book Review: ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson

Title in white on black partially obscured by pink
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - first book of trilogy

Synopsis:

Book cover for ROSEWATER: title in white on black partially obscured by pink and orange dotted curves

Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless—people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again—but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

This is an interesting book. It’s hard to describe or classify, with multiple timelines of Kaaro’s life weaving together as he works out what’s happening with the alien lifeform. The blurb feels like it gives more direction/brings the plot in earlier than the book does, and I’m also not convinced we got the answer he was nominally searching for.

It took me a while to get into the book, which I think is for a couple of reasons. The first is that I found some of the scene and chapter transitions a little jarring. Even with the time headings to indicate where we were in the timeline, I found it a little hard to work out what the narrative was that was linking the scenes and chapters. And that did slow me down, make it hard to get into the flow.

The second reason is the reason I never fully got into the book. I was never quite sure where the book was going, what the goals and stakes and plot were. Even finishing the book I don’t think I can tell you what the plot was.

This is a book that feels more like it’s about following a guy through his life and just seeing the bizarre, dangerous things that happen to him now and in the past. I like to feel like a book is going somewhere, has a direction. I am perfectly happy – in fact, I love it – when a book has a deeply satisfying twist that changes the direction of a book. But I want to have that feeling of heading towards a goal, a finale – that forward momentum to something.

I never felt like this book was aiming for something. It was certainly moving – the pacing is brilliant – but it lacked that directionality that I like. I never had even a sense of where the book was going or what the character’s goals were beyond “get on with life.”

This is a really personal thing, about my tastes in stories. But it made the ending rather confusing for me (particularly as time zones converged) as I didn’t feel like I was dealing with something being set up, and I did struggle to work out what exactly was real and actually happening with the alien stuff.

ROSEWATER is the first book in a trilogy, and I’m not entirely certain if I’ll be continuing the series. I’m not sure the story structure is something that’s to my personal taste.


Read my reviews of other books by Tade Thompson:

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