This was such a cool idea! Aliens land in the ocean outside Lagos, and basically start granting wishes to sea creatures. This swordfish wants to be enormous? Done. This eel thing wants to be able to fly? Done. Then the aliens come ashore and are basically like “Yo, earthlings, we’re here, we plan to stay, there’s nothing you can do about it, hi!” No nefarious plots, no interstellar war, no kidnapping humans for experiments. The main alien ambassador chooses three humans to be her representatives, asks to see the president of Nigeria, and is super chill about the whole thing.
Such a good concept! Unfortunately, it’s not executed tremendously well. It kind of reminded me of the problems I had with my Hitchhiker’s Guide re-read: lots of disjointed chapters, dropped plot threads, and unexplained stuff.
Agu, Adaora, and Anthony are the three humans chosen to speak to the alien. Adaora, a marine biologist, names the alien Ayodele after a childhood friend. All the aliens (and their ship) can change their shape, and apparently could change anything they wanted, but that’s never really explored outside of the giant swordfish and a few other non-human adjustments. So the alien chooses a human shape to make everyone more comfortable, and then just kind of sits there as Lagos goes crazy around her. An unpleasant preacher decides it’s his job to ‘Save’ the aliens and introduce a whole new species to Christianity. The military goes bonkers and tries to capture Ayodele. Some jerk talks his friends into a kidnapping attempt, thinking they can make money off the alien. The LGBTQ+ community in Lagos decides the shapeshifting aliens are a sign of universal acceptance and start a parade. It’s chaos, and then she meets the president, and then that’s the end. It’s so odd! Adaora is mostly the main character, and there are side plots with her horrible husband and enthusiastic children, and then the three humans turn out to have powers, but it’s never clear if that has anything to do with anything. And then about three quarters of the way through, there are several chapters that switch to third person, but it’s all different people, which is confusing. It’s just to show what else is happening around Lagos, but it’s so jarring.
And then there are the really weird things, like a sentient highway that likes to eat people (again, unclear if this is alien influence or it’s always been this way and was just waiting for the chaos). And some gods show up and wander around. And Ayodele has several Leeloo Dallas moments where she sees the awfulness of humanity and wants to give up.
It was interesting, but definitely not cohesive. I wanted underwater aliens, and instead I got an alien who enjoyed trying Earthling food (I mean, that part I totally get) and poking the various factions around her to see what happened. I wanted more why. Characters were introduced just to die or disappear, important stuff happened offscreen (off-page?) and never explained, and things were just too random to follow.