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The Wormwood Trilogy #2

The Rosewater Insurrection

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All is quiet in the city of Rosewater as it expands on the back of the gargantuan alien Wormwood. Those who know the truth of the invasion keep the secret.

The government agent Aminat, the lover of the retired sensitive Kaaro, is at the forefront of the cold, silent conflict. She must capture a woman who is the key to the survival of the human race. But Aminat is stymied by the machinations of the Mayor of Rosewater and the emergence of an old enemy of Wormwood...

374 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 2019

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About the author

Tade Thompson

54 books1,111 followers
Tade Thompson is a British born Yoruba psychiatrist who is best known for his science fiction novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,718 followers
November 21, 2020
The second book in the Rosewater series, and really, you can’t read and understand this without reading the first, so I really wouldn’t try. That said, should you happen upon this review in the far future, you could allow for a time gap between the books because you just need a general framework of the world. On the other side, that means if you read Rosewater and jumped right into this, the way Nataliya and I did, you will appreciate the lack of explanobabble that some series fall prey to. Thompson has a lot going on and needs to get to business. While Rosewater is mostly about the sensitive Kaaro, Insurrection is about… subsequent events surrounding the reveal, so everything that follows will have indirect spoilers for the first book. Yes, I get that you may not want to keep reading. (Remember: I can only remember complicated chemo regimens because I’ve worked with them for almost two decades. You think I can remember a story about aliens in Nigeria? Actually, to be honest, there’s a possibility I will; it's that unique).

Narrative is centered around a group of four… people, with varying degrees of each viewpoint, so it can be a bit of a challenge figuring out as a reader who is central. Aminat begins the tale, followed by Jack Jacques, the ethically complicated mayor of Rosewater; Alyssa, white Rosewater woman who has lost her memory; and Anthony, the avatar/amalgam of Wormwood and humanity. Kaaro plays a more insignificant role, so if you are hoping for more of his specific character arc, prepare to let go of expectations, although I did appreciate the appearance of Yaro, his dog. An early sensitive who was brought into S45 gets a turn. Will is the last viewpoint, an author brought in to be a chronicler, but there will also be pieces of his novel scattered through the book. It’s a bit confusing, but I think Thompson is hoping to convey the chaos of both environmental and political change causing further upheaval (METAPHORALERT). In this, it is very much a book of our times.

I feel like the characters were as well-rounded as possible, given the constraints of time and narrative, and Jack will be the anti-hero you come to understand, if not appreciate. While it originally seems like Amarit will be playing an active role, she ends up being more of a tool in a political game, still deferential to S45 and the brother crutch. Unfortunately for me, I think the variety of viewpoints leads to overmuch detail in the wrong places. The early S45 character could have been left out, and Alyssa’s midstory-viewpoint minimalized. Word count could have been given instead to Anthony, for clarifying the alien world-finding philosophy, or to Amarit surviving in Rosewater, giving insight into life for the ordinary person. I tend to feel like more threads ends up in a more chaotic color weave, not necessarily a more complex one–at least here. Some people can achieve that riotous complexity. Your mileage may vary with how much you feel Thompson does.

World-building remains complicated, and in this installment, both the Nigerian-Rosewater relations and the alien complications are fleshed out, so to speak (groan). We get more insight into the local history of Rosewater, and the chaos of everyday life there. Although I’m no expert on western Africa, I can’t help feeling like Thompson is drawing more on current politics than future. It makes for a curious blend of contemporary and futuristic feel.

The plot is fast paced with a lot of action, as you might expect with such a title. There are likely some trigger-warnings here, and again this is where it feels contemporary. There is a brief mention made of a rape-camp and frequent mention of ‘necklacing’ as a punishment. Although it becomes more disturbing when you realize, hopefully, that necklacing has been a rare occurrence in any part of Africa and tends to horrify people when it occurs. So I’m not sure what Thompson is implying by bringing it back as an apparent social control.

Overall, I found it a fascinating read that provided a lot of fodder for thought and discussion. It feels a little like one of those nicely done big-budget sci-fi films that maybe lacks detail and finesse on scrutiny, but holds up fine on first go-through, and absolutely works as great after-movie conversation.

Many, many thanks to Nataliya for waiting for me and participating in a buddy read. I sincerely enjoyed our conversations about this book!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
December 6, 2021
“You look at that dome and you see an animal, gigantic, useful to your society, benign, but an animal all the same. What I see is a machine. This is what we came up with after terraforming engines disappointed us. Instead of changing the environment, we change the organisms and live in them. In you.”
I still can’t believe that Rosewater books have not even received nominations for most major SF awards (except for Arthur C. Clarke Award, of course). I don’t get it. I’m done with book 2, and again it was a fresh take on SF concepts, told in a confident voice of a seasoned writer in the making. How did it mostly fly under the radar?
“Nobody trusts idealism in Nigeria, not even the fundamentalist churches.”

Set mostly in 2067, it focuses on the eponymous city of Rosewater that arose out of a makeshift shantytown around a giant alien biodome with healing properties and progressed to being a multimillion “most advanced city” in Nigeria, with “universal health and uninterrupted power from the alien” and millions of pilgrims each year coming for the healing (which also leaves hundreds and hundreds of zombified “reanimates” in its wake). And in the previous book we learned that since free cheese is only in a mousetrap, the price everyone is paying is slow replacement of human cells by alien ones, with the ultimate goal of aliens colonizing Earth by taking over human bodies, in a very insidious but seemingly unstoppable invasion.
“For decades the entire biosphere has been gradually contaminated with an alien species, a microorganism designated ascomycetes xenosphericus. There may be sub-strains and variants but they share a protean nature and a disdain for the Hayflick Limit. Over time S45 has discovered that these xenoforms have been slowly mimicking human cells, taking over human bodies. The pace has been leisurely, and Aminat herself is only 7 per cent alien. She has seen subjects with xenoform percentages in the low forties.”

Our narrator from the first book, Kaaro, an unwilling agent of the secret arm of the government and a “quantum extrapolator” able to tap into the xenosphere (a “worldmind” made of microscopic alien organisms that sequesters our mental data) is relegated to a minor character in this one, with the spotlight going to his girlfriend Aminat (also a secret government agent), Jack Jacques (a monomaniacal mayor of Rosewater with a fear of reelection), Anthony (a human-shaped avatar of the alien creature Wormwood) and Alyssa (a human who is now made of 79% alien cells and therefore perhaps not human anymore). And we are thrown in the middle of Rosewater Insurrection after Rosewater mayor declares independence from Nigeria leading to a brutal civil war - all while the alien is unexpectedly failing and a new menace arises (), and the slow takeover of humanity continues by the same alien that Rosewater inhabitants are forced to cooperate with.
“This is Rosewater; this is where they live. It is a rowdy conurbation slapped against the periphery of a two-hundred-feet-high dome. It does not look planned. The streets are tight, with a tendency to break off or bend at awkward angles without warning. The houses slapdash, of varying ages and design, the entire city an afterthought. It teems with people, most of them black Nigerians, but there is a healthy mottling of Arabs, South Asians, Russians and a myriad other nationalities. Road signs struggle to control and make sense of the movements of the population and the central auto-drive system. The air is constantly criss-crossed by the path of drones like birds who do not fly in tandem. The real birds seem shy, upstaged, lurking on rooftops and shitting everywhere.

The dome is a blue beacon with a tortuous pattern on its surface and spikes growing out in every direction. Drones and birds and other uncertain flying organisms have impaled themselves on these extrusions, their corpses hanging like kebabs for the vultures who keep it clean.”

I loved the deeper look into the city of Rosewater in this book. Tade Thompson brings it to life, warts and all, with vivid worldbuilding and ability to convey the loud crowded place with smells and sounds and criminal underbelly with shadow economy, slimy manipulative politicians, the zombified “reanimates” shambling around on the streets, and old prejudices and superstitions and casual cruelty running rampant. This world is cruel, cynical and hard-edged.

It blends and combines Afrofuturism and biopunk and hardboiled noir and alien invasion stories, with a few glimpses of zombie stories, and political thriller. And it keeps a lot of the snarky sarcastic attitude that I loved so much in the first installment, which is a plus.

I personally was quite fascinated by the idea of insurrection itself, a last-minute ditch towards independence of the city, borne out of a politician’s desperation and fueled by shadow (anti?)-governmental forces. I tend to believe that people needs overrule nebulous country/state needs, and if you want to separate and be on your own, nobody has the right to tell you otherwise — bit the waters are muddied here by the move being sprung on people by those in power, with desires of the population not taken into consideration. And it leads to pretty brutal civil war done for the sake of those in power rather than the ones being governed - like it always is. And politics are further muddied by the need to cooperate with those who are looking for complete takeover.

Not to say this is a perfect book. There is a bit of gratuitous, unneeded and almost voyeristic descriptions, and a few concepts remain a bit muddied, and at least one viewpoint that could have been canned for streamlining. But overall it is a strong, fresh and original story.

I can’t wait to see how it reconciles all the plotlines and the conflicts and the wounds of the civil war, and the tenuous new relationship with colonizers, something painfully familiar to that part of our world. The fact that the colonizers demand a second chance for after they already destroyed one world by forcibly insisting on seizing the other world from the “lesser” species is what makes me not believe in future peaceful coexistence. Colonizers and colonized have too much of a power imbalance for a peaceful solution. The welfare of the colonized is not the colonizers goal. The detente cannot hold. Bring on the next book!

4 stars.

My review of the first book in the series, Rosewater, is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Buddy read with carol.
Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 4 books1,823 followers
October 9, 2019
Compulsively readable, endlessly inventive, and altogether compelling, I very much enjoyed this sequel to the also-excellent Rosewater. In both novels, Thompson has concocted a propulsively-plotted tale set in a near-future Nigeria that mashes up horror elements, alien invasion, down and dirty politics, dark humor, ecologically fantastical creations, and a lot of skillfully-drawn action set pieces. I have great admiration for his nimble juggling of multiple POVs and narrative voices as he follows along a large set of intensely interesting characters.

This is such a refreshingly original and tightly-written trilogy so far, and I very much look forward to the upcoming release of the concluding volume.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,037 reviews513 followers
August 1, 2019
When I learnt that not only did Rosewater win the 2019 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel, but was the first in a trilogy, my curiosity was piqued enough to want to read the second straightaway. I remember being frustrated by Rosewater when I read it initially, a genre hybrid that tried to splice together too many disparate elements to make for a cohesive whole: Apocalyptic SF, alien invasion, zombie horror, spy thriller, noir, Afrofuturism.

The latter trend was probably sparked originally by Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, which won the same award in 2011. Thereafter the spate of Nigerian-themed SF continued with, wait for it, Nigerians in Space by Deji Bryce Olukotun and Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, both published in 2014.

Well, my experience with this trilogy thus far mirrors my experience with another trilogy, the Area X novels by Jeff VanderMeer. And it kind of informs me I need to change my approach to trilogies. I didn’t much care for Annihilation, but was blown away by the next two, and especially how they refracted upon and expanded the original instalment.

The exact same thing with Rosewater Insurrection. The narrative is still fractured and told from the viewpoints of multiple characters, but Tade Thompson’s writing is so confident and assured here that, paradoxically, it comes across as far more cohesive.

Thinking about Jeff VanderMeer, these books also remind me of the Chaga series by Ian McDonald. But Thompson’s voice is unique: He also offers quite an interesting take on First Contact, a genre staple that one would have thought has been done to death by now. But the rise of right-wing extremism globally reveals that any debate about colonisation and colonialism is still painfully relevant, especially in Africa.

Rosewater Insurrection is a very smart, savvy and nuanced continuation of the story thus far. I loved the way it teems with the minutiae of daily life in Nigeria, such as an almost throwaway mention that homosexuality is (still) banned. Then there is the inevitable Under the Dome quip, which points to another feature of the book: It is very, very funny. And I felt that the characters are definitely more rounded, while several new characters are added into the fray. (Making the political shitheel Jack Jacques come across as a sympathetic character in the end is quite a feat).

Liz Bourke’s review of Rosewater Insurrection at tor.com really hits the nail on the head:

When it comes to big ideas, weird science, futurism and the vastness and multitude of the alien stuff crammed into Rosewater—the city and the books—Thompson excels: he builds a world full of dizzying, terrifying marvels and the compelling necessities of the quotidian. Rosewater is a fantastically interesting city, and Wormwood, a fascinating device with which to interrogate humanity and human nature: this is a novel engaged in conversation with the classic science fiction topoi both of alien contact and of the colonisation of worlds by technologically superior visitors. But these technologically superior visitors may be irrevocably changed by what they find. With setting, with politics, with the grand scale and its interaction with smaller individuals—there, Thompson’s at his best.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books687 followers
February 1, 2020
I loved Rosewater. Loved it. I thought Thompson was bold to use an unconventional hero and use seamlessly woven tropes from all sorts of different scifi, fantasy, and horror to discuss current day events in new and interesting ways.

This however was more or less unnecessary. There is one part of the story that comprised maybe an hour of reading for me that was what we needed to know for the story. I wish it had been rolled into a duology instead, it would have been much less frustrating.


Things that were cool:

-Anthony. I liked spending more time with the avatar of Wormwood.

-Oyin Da. Who doesn't like a Cortana-like character who just shows up when you need her?

-Learning about Rosewater. It was cool to see how it developed in symbiosis with the aliens.

Things that caused me to gnash my teeth:

-The casual hate. It made sense in book one, when Kaaro was an asshole, to see things from an asshole's perspective. But (no pun intended) it feels like Kaaro was actually a moderating presence, and most of these characters (or perhaps even more meta than that) are just the worst sort of abusive, fragile, toxic people. I hated all the time we spent glossing over hateful rhetoric and the pain of real people.

-The narrative device. I do not think the multiple POVs worked here. Eric's was useless. Walter's was pointless. Jacques' was mostly dithering. There are 3-4 people moving this story, everyone else is page filler. Also, having dates on some chapters is not helpful if not all of them have dates. Oh yes, we still don't really know "when" we are in this book.

-Infodumps & exposition. Yegads. This book isn't a story, it's a lab report with doodles of people in the margins. Soooo much explanation! So little "showing"! That's how you know something can be summarized. If there aren't important character moments and emotional depths to plumb, if you're just gonna solve the mystery for us, then do it and skip the rest.

-The dialogue. It bothered me a bit in Rosewater, but much moreso in this book. Everyone is trying to be a snarky arsehole, and it feels forced.

-The women. Wow, I am sort of astonished here. Book 1 I felt redeemed itself because we saw the women being badasses even if the MC refused to acknowledge them. Here we lose agency, depth, and reality. They're all sexual objects, even when the mind we're in isn't the sort to objectify them, and all of them need a dude to fix or run things. Or, you know, they're in rape camps. I don't know why I'm complaining, clearly that is the full gamut of femininity's options represented. /sarcasm

Hugely disappointing for me. I don't think I'll finish the series, and now I'm wondering about whether I should continue recommending Rosewater or if I was too charitable in my interpretation.
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
985 reviews234 followers
December 7, 2019
"In the darkened room with him there are sixteen reanimates, whom he brought along to be shields, to protect his body when he goes into the xenosphere. The room smells of desperate, unwashed humanity, and it is at times difficult to breathe, but there is a price to pay for everything."

Rosewater, the first book in the Wormwood trilogy, was a top favorite for me last year. I loved it so fucking much! This delicious blend of aliens, science fiction, cyberpunk, Afropunk, aliens, future noir, diversity.. did I mention there were ALIENS?!

In my review, I talked about how much I adore Aminat and that I wanted a book with her backstory. Well, this sequel focuses mostly on Aminat, but it takes place after the events in the first installment. DON'T MIND IF I DO!!

If you haven't yet read Rosewater, you must! GO!! I cannot promise that there won't be slight spoilers with regards to the premise.

If you are okay with that, then by all means.. continue on!

Rosewater is a donut-shaped city in a future Nigeria that surrounds a 200-foot alien dome. Every year, the dome opens up and heals those that are in the vicinity of their health issues. Some people are even brought back from the dead. This event is called The Opening, which attracts visitors from all over. The way the aliens invaded Rosewater was by xenoforms, which slowly replace human cells with alien ones.

The narrative of Rosewater skipped through various decades, which was sometimes a bit hard to keep track of. Insurrection is easier to follow in that sense, because it doesn't jump around quite as much. It's still non-linear with multiple POV's, though. Rosewater narrowed in on Kaaro as the protagonist. He is a sensitive, which is someone that is able to read thoughts and feelings of others while plugged into the xenosphere. We deviate from him in this, redirecting the main POV to his lover, Aminat. I was already a fan of Aminat in the first book, but damn. I completely fell for her in Insurrection! She is such a fully fleshed out character, one that easily handled the shifting of focus from more of a supporting character to stepping into the spotlight as the central role. 

Aminat is a scientist and agent with the special services, tasked with locating a woman named Alyssa Sutcliffe, who is vital in saving the human race. Alyssa, a housewife that is going through amnesia memory gaps, is thought to be the first person to be more alien than human.  

"Mangled corpses, body parts everywhere, blood mixing with the mud to form pink froth, structures flattened for fifty yards in every direction, debris mixed with organic matter. The ring is obliterated, the fighters gone. No crater, no fires. Compression bombs don't leave any. They are essentially portal keys that open a bridge to a vacuum that sucks matter in, then closes rapidly, reversing the flow, spraying matter outwards. The victims' bones are their own shrapnel."

There are plenty of new characters introduced in Insurrection that help round out the story. One of the major players is Jack Jacques, the mayor of Rosewater who among other things, enjoys a scheduled morning blow job (as one does). He has declared independence and is met with resistance. There is a shit ton of conflict that erupts from this, including tension between Jacques and the president of Nigeria.

Two other characters that come in and out of the story are Femi, Aminat's supervisor. He is the former head of the special services and has a hand in Jacques decision to split from the government. Then there's an author who likes smoking weed and is supposed to be working on a book. But alas, that book only exists in his head for the time being.

Tade Thompson has done a brilliant job with the worldbuilding and has made Rosewater itself a wonderfully weird character. Sex bots, assassins, psychics, reanimates, aliens, warfare.. all form this highly claustrophobic, bonkers atmosphere! This is only the second of Thompson's novels that I've read, but I am completely mesmerized by his storytelling in both instances. He has this ability to draw you in with familiarity, yet keeps you captivated with something insanely exhilarating. Something that feels like it belongs in it's own box. It's fucking glorious! Needless to say, I'm beyond excited to see how the finale of the Wormwood trilogy comes together!

(Big thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy!)
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
September 2, 2019
While the wonderful first book in the Wormwood Trilogy had a slightly more interesting and convoluted storytelling structure befitting a mystery novel with explosively weird fantasy and SF elements, the second book tones that down and gives a much more straightforward tale.

This isn't a bad thing, considering what is being accomplished. Some mystery is here, of course, and the worldbuilding is phenomenal. This little Nigerian town was turned into a hub of spore aliens slowing taking over not just humanity but all life, but most of us frail humans LIKE THE GIFT of being cured of diseases, so there's a steady stream of immigrants. And curiosity seekers. And people who just like to invite tentacular horrors into their bodies for private use, like the telepathy, godlike transformative abilities, or whatnot. :)

This book leads us to human rebellion not against the aliens, but against the greater Nigerian government. Independence? Well, it's not always a popular move. But this is also very strange modern politics.

I really, really enjoyed the big action when it came underway. Very imaginative, wild, and fun. In some ways, this was a superior book to the first. :)
Profile Image for Nick Borrelli.
359 reviews321 followers
March 26, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,005 reviews2,597 followers
March 12, 2019
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/03/12/...

I was happy to find that The Rosewater Insurrection was as weird and wonderful as its predecessor. In many ways, I even got along better with it because the story was slightly simpler and easier to follow, and it also features one of my favorite characters from the first book as the protagonist.

This time, we get to ride along with Aminat while her lover Kaaro, the main character from the first book, takes on a more supporting role. This sequel brings us back to Rosewater, the Nigerian city which has sprung up around the dome-like alien lifeform known as Wormwood. The country’s political climate is thrown into chaos as Jack Jacques, Rosewater’s mayor, makes a brash attempt at declaring independence, antagonizing the president of Nigeria who is not about to stand for such noncompliance.

Meanwhile, in a quiet neighborhood one morning, a woman named Alyssa Sutcliffe wakes up in her home with no memory of who or where she is. The man sleeping beside her, presumably her husband if the photos around the house are any indication, is a stranger and she has no recollection of them ever getting married. There is also a daughter, whom Alyssa does not recognize at all, and she can’t even remember ever giving birth. A trip to the doctor finds nothing wrong with her physically, but alerts others who might have an idea of why she is experiencing such strange memory loss. Working as a government agent, Aminat is charged with finding Alyssa for her possible part in a greater fight to save the human race even as shadowy factions conspire to keep a rising alien threat secret.

In The Rosewater Insurrection, Tade Thompson continues to expand the world of his series, peeling back even more layers to explore the inner workings of this strange and fascinating setting. Even after two books, the novelty has not faded for me; I still feel as amazed as ever by the incredible world-building as well as the author’s unique take on the concept of alien first contact and invasion. As you’d recall, it’s a particularly insidious kind of takeover, involving the slow and gradual replacement of human cells with xenoform biology, which infuses this series with a subtle eeriness that is very effective. Due to some of the events in this book, the sense of danger feels much less abstract this time around, becoming more imminent—and more personal, in a way—ramping up the intensity of the suspense and action.

Following in the tradition of Rosewater, this sequel is also told via multiple POVs with a narrative that jumps around in time. While I’m still not the biggest fan of the non-linear storytelling, my experience with the first book had primed me for what to expect in this follow-up, and admittedly, the plot is intriguing enough that I would be willing to give these novels a pass on anything. Plus, I loved our new characters. As much as I enjoyed following Kaaro’s point-of-view in the previous installment, I was excited when I discovered that Aminat was going to be the protagonist in this one. We got to see a deeper side of her here, and together with Alyssa the two of them made an efficient team even when their interests didn’t always align. The mercurial Jack Jacques was also a perspective character, his inconstant motivations presenting yet another puzzle piece in this ever-widening mosaic of events.

It’s difficult to say much more about this book, not only because of obvious reasons involving spoilers but because there’s also the complexity of the plot to consider. There’s a strange kind of beauty about these novels that’s hard to put into words, an uncanny perfection in how all these different parts come together. Needless to say, Tade Thompson somehow connects all these various elements and and makes them work in balance and synergy. All in all, The Rosewater Insurrection is a masterfully well-crafted sequel that ties together plot threads while further expanding the world to prepare for even greater revelations in the coming finale.
Profile Image for Nick Imrie.
287 reviews123 followers
April 13, 2020
Rosewater Insurrection has all the virtues of the first book and is more confident in its execution. It's fast, frenetic and fun: a spy-adventure-thriller-action story with a kaleidoscope of dazzling SF ideas spinning around in the background. Every character in this book is a badass! that thrills the hearts of teenagers everywhere: the sort of person that throws their boss to the ground and kicks them in the ribs for justice or something, and spends the entire book outrunning explosions and shooting (or being shot at) in a very satisfying way, zipping through the plot at an exhilarating pace!

Every character has the same attitude of weary cynicism - and speaks in the same tones of witty sarcasm. The even share an extensive and colourful vocabulary (no, I don't just mean the swearing - there's some great language in the story) that seems suspiciously out of character for some of them. Not that there's much chance to get to know the characters - the point of view skips around so quickly to keep up with the plot.

The plot threads are all masterfully drawn together, and there's a great cliffhanger at the end. It's such an enjoyable read and really leaves you wanting to know what happens!
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,885 followers
April 1, 2019
This was absolutely terrific. Better than the first book: the writing is more assured and the plotting clearer. Thompson handles a large cast with aplomb, the imagination is glorious and vivid and there's a lot of wry humour. Great ideas, haunting imagery, neither of them swamping the exciting progress of a well worked out plot.

A really fantastic SF, exactly what I read the genre for. (And confirms the theory I read recently and can't forget, that all SF is now about climate change.) Thompson is shaping up to be one of the best SFF writers we have. Very highly recommended.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
307 reviews1,314 followers
Want to read
February 7, 2019
Thank you to Orbit for sending me a review copy of The Rosewater Insurrection. It cheered me up on what has been an otherwise awful day and I'll probably read it next.
Profile Image for Tori (InToriLex).
451 reviews359 followers
August 19, 2020
A wonderful continuation of the series. If you enjoy adult sci-fi, then this series is for you. In this second book the stakes are higher, the weapons are more extreme and the humor makes all the action that much more fun.

Rosewater's is being attacked from every which way imaginable, while more progress is being made towards Wormwood's ultimate goal. In this book, you learn a lot about the Mayor of Rosewater Jack Jacques who is the most calculated, morally ambiguous politician I have ever encountered. The plethora of characters in this book that you are introduced to are given depth and characteristics that will surprise you. The science continues to be described well and the the writing was superb. I'm really looking forward to finishing this series, and continuing in the futuristic sci-fi!!
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,119 reviews1,111 followers
August 11, 2020
Still a very fascinating, hard-boiled SF with a great setting and cast of characters. Yet I feel I enjoyed the first book slightly better since it has fewer POVs. I miss being in Kaaro's head. The book however does not suffer from the sequel syndrome. It kept me engaged and sometimes I had to try hard to keep up with so many crazy stuff flying, floating, and burrowing around this wacky city of Rosewater. I can't wait to read the final book.
Profile Image for inciminci.
327 reviews24 followers
August 22, 2021
It doesn't happen often that I like the second book of a series more than the first book, but that's definitely the case with Rosewater Insurrection. And having already read the third book, it is safe for me to say that each book is better than the previous one in this series.
Picking up from where the first book ended, but with the addition of an astonishingly varied, colorful and sometimes outright funny range of new characters that interact with the main cast Kaaro, Femi, Anthony and (my favorite!) Aminat, Insurrection really mixes things up, offering an epic zombie fight, new dangers threatening to destroy Wormwood, an impulsive mayor that will drag the people into chaos, seriously weird alien encounters and a hacker named Bad Fish. And talking about characters, Thompson again shows all his skill in creating characters with depth, with relatable backgrounds and credible reactions.
This second installment is much more action loaded and light-hearted than its predecessor, with many more complicated but always fantastic storylines. In the end, as it is usual with Thompson, everything falls nicely into place. Can't wait to re-read the third book!
Profile Image for Alex Bright.
Author 2 books39 followers
October 23, 2019
4.5 Stars

I switched the first book to 4 stars, and am giving this one half a star more, since it’s narrative is so much tighter. I may end up rounding to 5 in the future. Can’t wait for the third book!
Profile Image for Tima Herr.
6 reviews
March 21, 2021
It's the second book of the series The Wormwood Trilogy, and it's a must that you read the book 1. The story continues nicely in this second installment. Most of the sci fi books has something to do with evil government. This book has it too.
Profile Image for Lesley.
106 reviews6 followers
October 12, 2019
Brilliant imagination coupled with crisp writing and flawed characters made this one wild and exhilarating ride. I enjoyed being back in the trippy world of Rosewater, following some familiar characters and meeting some intriguing new ones, through a story that smashes together political corruption/scandal and alien invasion. The political storyline got a little drawn out for me in the middle of the book, but it was wholly redeemed by Thompson’s remarkable creativity and ability to weave in fantastical elements into the narrative’s resolution. I’m very much looking forward to the conclusion to this journey next month.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,509 reviews188 followers
June 3, 2019
I had a hard time reorienting myself in this story initially. There are multiple PoVs, and I could not remember who a few of them were. I did, however, feel very happy that Aminat from book one had a much more prominent role in this story.
The story: In which the alien invasion kicks up several notches, S45/Femi is up to her elbows in managing the situation and Rosewater Mayor Jack Jacques, who wants to make Rosewater independent from the rest of Nigeria, while Kaaro's holed up at home, enjoying his retirement from S45, and Aminat is dealing with the alien situation directly. Oh, and the story moves back and forth through time and from PoV to PoV.
The brilliant worldbuilding, and sheer weirdness of Rosewater continues unabated here. The characters and their motivations are diverse and complicated, and set up the book's violent confrontation. There is much at stake for everyone, and Tade Thompson doesn't disappoint with this second installment.
Profile Image for Jemppu.
499 reviews90 followers
October 1, 2019
This felt quite a lot more focused and sure of itself without the tough guy act of the first book seeing/stirring chaos everywhere. The more organized plot gave room for the suspense of the various individual 'invasion' experiences and political machinations to grow to vivid and gripping levels, and made the characters much better accessible.

Where the first book left me somewhat cold, this - with it's beautifully portrayed, almost chillingly calm and casual body invasion scenarios - inspired.
Profile Image for Hank.
779 reviews74 followers
April 21, 2019
Wonderfully weird with a ton of ideas packed into the book. 4.5 stars rounded up, Tade is stuffing so many pieces into the story it can be hard to keep up sometimes. Girl power! Aminat, Femi, Lora all rock! Femi's character arc is fascinating to me, I find myself alternately cheering for her and loathing her and am completely uncertain where my final emotion will land at the end of the trilogy. Very unusual, I tend to make quick judgments and stick to them. I will definitely read the third book when it comes out.
Profile Image for Gabi.
689 reviews117 followers
March 30, 2019
Yeah! I loved it! It's 4.5 stars in comparison with the first novel, cause I was missing the complicated structure I appreciated in the first book, but that made this sequel at least easier to follow.

What a wonderful mix of truly alien aliens, coldblooded and uncaring politicians and secret organisations in a state of everybody against everybody.

Thompson's prose is blunt, his characters are absolutely real and not bloodless larger-than-life heroes. His concept of the aliens is weird and mind-boggling. Reading this novel is a feast for the senses, I felt alive and intrigued and highly entertained. This is how I love a book!

Kudos to Tade Thompson. Can't wait for the solution to this trilogy.
Profile Image for Dawn F.
494 reviews67 followers
March 28, 2019
I was extremely fond of the first Rosewater book, and the sequel didn’t disappoint. Again we follow a few different characters, some familiar faces from the first book and some new people. Kaaro makes appearances but not as the main character and this suits the story very well.

The thing I fell for in the first book is how truly alien the aliens of Rosewater is. Instead of any clear communication with them, they exist through the influence they have on their surroundings, the flora and fauna and the human life in the area where the biodome has rooted itself. It’s almost like an afterthought that they have a voice - the focus is on the effect they have on the population of Rosewater and how people in the government and in private utilize it or describe it to us. The biodome and the alien life is a character that we can never really communicate with, but we can see the effect it has on us, on purpose or not. I’m reminded a little of Jeff VanderMeer’s writing in this regard.

Less confusing than the first one, this had a more clear narrative. I’m almost sad I finished it so quickly, now I’ll have way too long to wait for the final installation of the series.
Profile Image for Dee.
288 reviews
August 5, 2022
This book continues where the first book stopped, sort of. It bounces back and forth in the timeline, including around one year into the future from the one in the first book. We spend time with a few new characters, and get a little more intel and background on the aliens who have invaded earth.

The story seemed to lose some continuity with the leaps back and forth in time, told from multiple people's view points and memory, and often with a lack of grounding context to help readers keep all the pieces together. There's also more symbolism in this story but less explanation, leaving one to try and figure things out on their own. This left me at times rereading sections and eventually just mentally shrugging and moving on, hoping that what I couldn't figure out wouldn't play too big a role in the rest of the story.

One does sort of have an idea of where the aliens, the dome, our main characters, and the timeline sit once the book ends. But the ride to that place was bumpy and sometimes confusing for me. If I could sum it up, the story was often written more like a screenplay or a graphic novel where the author feels more assured that the visuals that support some events are already in front of the reader and not needing to be built as the reader reads.
Profile Image for Sarah.
62 reviews
October 11, 2019
A very compelling and exciting sequel to the brilliant Rosewater. I found it to be a little bit better than the first book. It flows better and the plot is a lot clearer. It's wonderfully imaginitive and the multiple viewpoints work very well.

I'm very much looking forward to the third book.
Profile Image for Bibliotecario De Arbelon.
236 reviews102 followers
December 24, 2020
Mucho mejor que Rosalera.

Con una trama más lineal que en la primera parte vamos descubriendo más secretos de Ajenjo y a varios de los personajes que conocimos en Rosalera.

Aunque el final se podría decir que es bastante cerrado, me quedo con ganas de saber como concluye la trilogía.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,051 reviews101 followers
April 10, 2019
This is the second volume of Rosewater trilogy. The review contains spoilers of the first book.

The slow invasion continues. We start with the action sequence, some new guy, Eric (S45 Agent) tries to kill an agitator in Rosewater. It gives us, readers, a pace for the book and continues not so much jumping in time, as the narrative of the first volume, but among multiple characters. Kaaro, the protagonist of the first book is more a background (albeit important) presence, while major protagonists are his girlfriend Aminat, invaders’ avatar Anthony (both from the first book) and new characters – Alyssa, a woman with suspiciously high share of alien sells and no memory and Jacques, a populist mayor of Rosewater.

There are new threats, more information of aliens and their goals. Some of the fights for me reminded comic books, like Superman fighting Swamp Thing. It is a bit too much pathos but overall a nice read.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews255 followers
October 23, 2019

3.5 Stars for Narration by Bayo Gbadamosi (I like his voice but he is not necessarily a good choice for a story with multiple POVs & there were mistakes left on the final recording.)
4 Stars for Solid Character Shorts
2.5 Stars for Main Characters

This was an easy book to read. While the story was easy to process & understand, I felt the story was not as intimate as the the first book. It was cool to have female characters lead in the current plot arc but I felt like a removed observer. Aminat was already established in the first book. Cool. Did she grow in this one? Did I get to know her better? Nah. Overall, the book was better in format. It was a solid start, middle and finish. Yet, it lacked the alien & exotic strangeness that made the first book more compelling. This book did not make me feel like I had to re-listen or read the story to truly intake what was happening. It didn't stretch my imagination. A good sequel but not as enticingly weird as the first book.
Profile Image for Maria Teresa.
719 reviews121 followers
December 28, 2020
La reseña completa en http://inthenevernever.blogspot.com/2...

“Lo único que se interpone entre los alienígenas y los humanos es el equipo de Aminat. Si esta fracasa, la humanidad se verá abocada a la extinción”.

¿Qué ocurriría si los alienígenas se encontraran ya entre nosotros? ¿Qué pasaría si la aparición de una cúpula gigante, que es el hogar de uno de ellos, diera lugar al establecimiento de una floreciente ciudad llamada Rosalera? Una urbe a la que todos quieren acudir buscando la cura para todo tipo de enfermedades, algo que tiene lugar cada vez que la bóveda se abre. Pero ¿y si trasformar Rosalera en un Estado independiente desatase una guerra con el gobierno de Nigeria? ¿Y si el extraterrestre del que depende la prosperidad del lugar parece enfermar? Hoy quiero hablarles de La insurrección de Rosalera, de Tade Thompson, el segundo libro de la emocionante Trilogía de Ajenjo.
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