The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson

Glorious... Tade Thompson has done a brilliant job with the worldbuilding and has made Rosewater itself a wonderfully weird character.
The Rosewater Insurrection book cover

Rosewater, the first book in the Wormwood trilogy, was a top favorite for me last year. I loved it so damned 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.

“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.”

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 its own box. It’s glorious! Needless to say, I’m beyond excited to see how the finale of the Wormwood trilogy comes together!


(Thank you to Orbit Books for sending me a copy!)

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