Rosewater by Tade Thompson had been sitting on my shelves for probably over a year when I finally decided to pick it up and read it as part of a group read over on Instagram. I knew it was by a Black author, took place near Lagos, Nigeria, and had something to do with aliens. Essentially, it had my attention, but my personal fear (and overall avoidance, let’s be real) of Adult SFF made me hesitant to pick it up. I’m so glad I’ve been getting over that fear this year because The Wormwood Trilogy is definitely a top tier series.
In the first book Rosewater, we follow one protagonist, Kaaro. Kaaro is an imperfect, selfish, and absolutely relatable protagonist, and Thompson’s crafting of him is masterful. Kaaro stands as one of the best characters I’ve encountered, simply because of how much I related to him and what that ultimately says about me as a human being. Most of us are unsure of ourselves, unsatisfied with our current work situation yet unmotivated to change it, and completely okay with not being the hero. Femi and Aminat (Kaaro’s boss and love interest, respectively) are who we all want to be, but Kaaro is who we actually most likely are. Kaaro serves as a mirror for the reader; he’s super messy, as we all are. Thompson shows us the full potential of ugliness that we carry as human beings, and I loved it.
In The Rosewater Insurrection, Tade Thompson delivers a brilliant book that continues the events of Rosewater. What’s fascinating about the second installment of The Wormwood Trilogy is that we follow many different characters, which is a change from the first book. I thought this decision to follow many characters in the second (and third) book was smart, as we’re allowed to see and experience many facets of the story without being confused, as we already know and understand the world. Much like with Rosewater, Thompson continued to provide us with engaging and descriptive writing.
My favorite book out of the series is probably Rosewater simply because I found Kaaro to be such a fascinating choice of a protagonist. If you want to know what I mean, check out my Instagram post on Rosewater. This series features such a ragtag team of protagonists (can we even call some of them heroes?) who are simultaneously working together but also against each other without knowing it. This series is rich in questions, dynamics, and stakes, and the presence of an uncertain and sometimes indistinguishable antagonist only feeds this. It’s impressive how Thompson was able to continually build on the world in books 2 and 3 and still have it make sense.
I do plan on reading more of Tade Thompson’s work. I found his ability to tell a story within a single novel but also across multiple novels to be impeccable, and I found myself making several notes as a writer myself on how to boldly tell a story and create your own style of storytelling. The Wormwood trilogy is quite masterful.
Have you read The Wormwood Trilogy or are you planning to? Let me know in the comments section below!
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