I’m so thankful to Catapult for my free copy – all opinions are my own.
When the army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows it is time to desert his post. As he travels toward Lagos with Yẹmi, his junior officer, and into the heart of a political scandal involving Nigeria’s education minister, Chike becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a different kind of life. Among them are Fineboy, a fighter with a rebel group, desperate to pursue his dream of becoming a radio DJ; Isoken, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father is thought to have been killed by rebels; and the beautiful Oma, escaping a wealthy, abusive husband.
I really loved this book! The story starts by following Chike and Yemi, who desert the Nigerian army when ordered to gun down innocent civilians. During their journey, they meet others along the way who desperately need to escape from their current predicament and end up with a tight knit, ragtag family of misfits. They then set off, without money or connections, to the city of Lagos. The story is colorful and interesting, the writing is incredibly sharp and clever, and the plot is full of Nigerian culture and politics.
The five main characters, Chike, Yemi, Fineboy, Oma, and Isoken are vibrant, unique, and thoughtfully written – I enjoyed reading about all of them. And it’s quite impressive how well the setting is showcased as its own character, illustrating the bustle of the city, its wealth, and poverty. The novel has a Dickensian quality as you have a group of people without means or money, that come from different backgrounds, bound together by circumstance, who decide to squat in an abandoned building. However, the story is written with care, optimism, and hope, so it’s not a dark, heavy read.
I was warned to “keep track” of the characters in order to avoid confusion and so I did. About midway through the book, everything came together smoothly to create one fantastic read! Onuzo is an incredibly talented writer! She flawlessly takes us through multiple storylines and characters with an authenticity that I love. There is so much detail in this novel, but it’s just the right amount to tell the story. I was so happy when Belletrist selected WELCOME TO LAGOS as their May read! Highly recommended!
My rating is 4 out of 5 stars!
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