Review: “The Rosewater Insurrection” By Tade Thompson (Novel)

Well, I was in the mood for some sci-fi. So, I thought that I’d take a look at Tade Thompson’s 2019 novel “The Rosewater Insurrection” (the sequel to Thompson’s excellent “Rosewater) since a relative pre-ordered a copy of it for me as a gift a few weeks before I prepared this review. And, yes, I write these reviews quite far in advance.

Before I begin the review, I should probably also point out that “The Rosewater Insurrection” is a direct sequel to “Rosewater” (and is the second book in a trilogy). Although it contains a few recaps, the story probably won’t make that much sense if you haven’t already read “Rosewater” first. So, this is a series that should probably be read in order.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “The Rosewater Insurrection”. Needless to say, this review may contain some SPOILERS.

This is the 2019 Orbit (UK) paperback edition of “The Rosewater Insurrection” that I read.

The novel begins in Nigeria with a flashback scene set in 2055. Eric is a sensitive (someone with psychic-like abilities, due to alien spores) working as a field agent for Section 45. He has been sent to Camp Rosewater, the settlement surrounding a mysterious alien bio-dome that has recently arrived on Earth, with orders to track down and kill a local revolutionary called Jack Jacques.

Eric infiltrates Jack’s camp and spends quite a while working as a labourer there, waiting for a chance to get close to Jack. But, when he eventually does, he gets a message from Kaaro telling him to get the hell out of there, because Section 45 consider him expendable and are going to use him as a human targeting beacon for an air-strike. Eric flees and is demoted to a desk job.

And, after Molara delivers a short lecture about the symbiotic history of humans and aliens to the reader, we flash forwards to the city of Rosewater in 2067, where a woman called Alyssa wakes up and finds that she has no memory whatsoever…

One of the first things that I will say about this novel is that, like “Rosewater”, it was a lot of fun to read 🙂 As you might expect, this sequel tells a larger and more epic story than “Rosewater” does. Although this means that the story doesn’t feel quite as focused during the earlier parts, if you stick with it then you’ll be rewarded with a gripping, spectacular sci-fi thriller that could probably put even the largest-budget modern movies to shame 🙂 Seriously, why hasn’t this series been turned into a film or TV series yet?

In terms of this novel’s sci-fi elements, it expands a lot on some of the stuff introduced in “Rosewater”. Not only do we get to learn a lot more about the aliens’ backstory, motivations and plans for Earth (including a novel twist on the familiar “alien invasion” trope) but the novel also includes all of the intriguing background details that you’d expect from a biopunk/cyberpunk novel too 🙂 The world-building is as good as ever, and the novel’s technology, alien fauna etc… also plays a role in the story in all sorts of dramatic, and occasionally surprising ways, too. Even so, this novel is very slightly more focused on it’s thriller elements than it’s sci-fi elements.

In terms of the novel’s thriller elements, it contains a really good mixture of suspenseful scenes, fast-paced action set pieces, tech/sci-fi based scenes and political/military/war drama too. All of these things also exist in both large and small scale versions too, adding even more thrilling variety and depth to the novel too. Although the novel takes a while to set up all of it’s many plot threads (which can make the story feel mildly confusing or unfocused at first), everything comes together in a really spectacular way and the mid-late parts of the story. Reading this novel feels like watching a much more intelligent, complex, creative and immersive version of a large-budget CGI blockbuster film 🙂

As you might expect if you’ve read “Rosewater”, the novel also contains some elements from the horror genre too 🙂 Although these are less prominent than they were in “Rosewater”, they turn up in a few wonderfully creepy moments (eg: the scene with Bewon and the plant growing in his apartment) – but their main purpose here is to add more atmosphere/realism to the setting and also to add extra impact, creativity and epic-ness to some of the novel’s action scenes. Even though this is less of a horror novel than it’s predecessor, these horror genre elements (eg: body horror, gory horror, zombies and psychological horror) really add a lot to the novel 🙂

Thematically, this novel is fairly interesting. Not only is this a novel about how power corrupts (shown through both Jack’s character arc and a few references to “Macbeth”, amongst other things) but it is also a novel about the environment, politics, warfare, how history is recorded etc… too. Most of this thematic stuff is more of a subtle background thing, but it plays a fairly major role in the events of the novel and also helps to add extra depth and realism to the story too.

As for the characters, this novel is as good as ever 🙂 Unlike “Rosewater”, this novel focuses a lot less on Kaaro (although he still gets some character development and a few really cool moments) and instead focuses a lot more on Aminat, Alyssa and Jack. All three of these characters have a decent amount of characterisation and character development – with Aminat going from being a slightly squeamish mid-level agent to a much more tough and heroic character, with Alyssa coming to terms with what is happening to her and with Jack slowly becoming corrupted by power. Yet, in an interesting twist, Jack isn’t the novel’s villain – but someone that the other characters have to reluctantly work with for the sake of their collective survival.

In terms of the writing, this novel is both similar and different to “Rosewater”. For the most part, this novel uses present-tense third-person narration that is informal enough to add personality to the story and keep things moving at a decent pace, but also descriptive and/or informative enough to add a lot of atmosphere to the story and make everything feel solid enough. The third-person narration also allows for a more complex and large-scale story. There are also a few mildly experimental flourishes too – such as random “extracts” from an in-universe historical novel (written by a character called Walter) that appear occasionally and provide extra backstory.

The novel also includes several first-person perspective segments and, although the jump from one perspective to another is a little surprising, the narrative voice is consistent enough and these segments are signposted well enough (each chapter title tells you which character it focuses on, and the infrequent chapters focusing on Eric and Walter are in first-person perspective) that this didn’t really become too confusing. Still, I’m kind of puzzled by this aspect of the novel – although, at a guess, Eric’s segments are in first-person because his opening segment is similar to the first-person narration used throughout “Rosewater” (and it provides a good bridge between the two books) and Walter’s segment is in first-person because it focuses a lot more on his thoughts, reactions etc…

In terms of length and pacing, this novel is reasonably good. At 374 pages, it is shorter than “Rosewater”, yet manages to tell a much larger story 🙂 And, although the story’s plot may feel a little less focused at first, all of the novel’s plot threads blend together well and provide a lot of payoff. The novel also contains a really good mixture of fast-paced action and moderately-paced drama/suspense, whilst still being as compelling as you’d expect from a thriller novel. Plus, although this novel is the middle part of a trilogy, the ending contains as much drama and resolution as you would expect from a stand-alone novel 🙂

All in all, this is a really enjoyable and compelling novel 🙂 Yes, it takes a little bit longer to really get started than “Rosewater” did (and the perspective/focus changes might take you a while to get used to), but it tells an even more spectacular story 🙂 This novel is a sequel in the truest sense of the word, taking everything good about the first novel and turning it up to eleven 🙂

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.

Top Ten Articles – November 2019

Well, it’s the end of the month, so I thought that I’d do my usual thing of collecting a list of links to the ten best articles (with maybe an honourable mention or two) about writing, reading etc… that I’ve posted here this month.

All in all, this month has been a bit of a strange one and although I quite like most of the articles I wrote, some of them also ended up going in very slightly more of a game-based direction since I got a modern refurbished computer at the time of writing many of them. On the plus side, this also led to non-“Doom II” related game reviews (eg: this one and this one) returning to this site for the first time in about six months or so.

Talking of reviews, I also managed to review twelve novels this month – with my favourites being “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” By Phillip K. Dick, “Virtual Light” by William Gibson, “N or M?” by Agatha Christie, “Blade Runner 2: The Edge Of Human” by K.W.Jeter, “Seventh Heaven” by Alice Hoffman and “Breeding Ground” by Shaun Hutson.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – November 2019:

– “Does Writing Style Matter More Than Plot?
– “Three Things To Do When You Can’t Use Your Favourite Writing Style
– “Imperfect Technology Is An Important Part Of The Cyberpunk Genre – A Ramble
– “Two Very Basic Tips For Reading A ‘Difficult’ Book
– “Four Reasons Why Spin-Off Novels Are So Awesome
– “When To Use Alternating Chapters In Your Story
– “Two Tips For Writing Stories That Can Compete With The Internet, Games, Phones etc…
– “Why Writers Need To Read Multiple Genres Of Fiction
– “Three Ways To Make Your Story More Readable
– “What Can A Computer Game Teach Us About Writing Horror Fiction That Focuses On One Type Of Horror?

Honourable mentions:

– “Three Reasons Why 1980s British Horror Fiction Was So Shocking
– “Is Simplification A Good Thing In Storytelling? – A Ramble

Top Ten Articles – October 2019

Happy Halloween everyone 🙂 As usual, here’s a list of links to the ten best articles about writing, reading etc.. I’ve posted here over the past month (plus a few honourable mentions too). Plus, in keeping with the occasion, most of the articles linked here are about the horror genre 🙂

As regular readers of this site probably know, this month’s book reviews have also had a bit of a horror theme too 🙂 Although, thanks to reading some longer books, I only reviewed twelve books this month. Still, the best ones were probably: “The Mall” by S. L. Grey, “The Ritual” by Adam Nevill, “The Rats” by James Herbert, “The Vampire Armand” by Anne Rice, “Resident Evil: City Of The Dead” by S. D. Perry and “The First Days” by Rhiannon Frater.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – October 2019:

– “Why Your Horror Story Needs To Include Moments Of Wonder
– “Four Advantages That Horror Film/Game Novelisations Have Over The Source Material
– “Three Basic Tips For Adding Horror Elements To Other Genres Of Fiction
– “Is Horror Fiction About Perspective?
– “Three Reasons Why Horror Writers Shouldn’t Just Read Horror Fiction
– “Three Thoughts About Re-Reading Novels
– “Three Ways To Survive A Horror Publishing Drought
– “Three Tips For Making Your Horror Stories Re-Readable
– “Three Innovative Scares To Use In Your Horror Story
– “Why First Novels Aren’t Publishable – A Ramble

Honourable Mentions:

– “How Formal Should The Narration In Your Horror Story Be?
– “Horror Movies Vs. Horror Novels – A Ramble
– “Three Reasons Why The Zombie Genre Is So Appealing

Top Ten Articles – August 2019

Well, it’s the end of the month and this means that it’s time for me to collect a list of the ten best articles about writing, making comics, reading books etc.. that I’ve posted here over the past month (As usual, I’ll also include a few honourable mentions too).

Despite being busy with various things, this month’s articles turned out better than I expected. Not only that, I also managed to review thirteen novels this month too – my favourites were probably: “Cabal” by Clive Barker, “Kill The Dead” by Tanith Lee, “Anno Mortis” by Rebecca Levene, “Meddling Kids” by Edgar Cantero and “Lies, Damned Lies, And History” by Jodi Taylor.

Anyway, here are the lists, enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – August 2019:

– “Three Ways To Make Familiar Horror Monsters Scarier
– “One Essential, But Overlooked, Element Of Fantasy Fiction – A Ramble
– “Four Reasons To Read Books By Lots Of Different Authors
– “The One Time You Should Avoid Writing Advice – A Ramble
– “Three Random Tips For Making Your Zombie Story Stand Out From The Crowd
– “Three Thoughts About Writing Short Fantasy Fiction
– “Three Benefits And Downsides Of Reading A Lot
– “One Way To Improve The Filler Comics In Your Webcomic
– “Three More Thoughts About How To Make Zombie Stories Scary
– “Three Lessons Writers Can Learn From 1980s Horror Fiction

Honourable Mentions:

– “Three Awesome Reasons Why Books Are Rebellious
– “When Is It Ok To ‘Break The Rules’ In Your Writing?
– “Small Recaps Are Useful For Your Readers! Use Them! – A Ramble

Top Ten Articles – July 2019

Well, it’s the end of the month and this means that it’s time for me to do my usual thing of collecting a list of links to the ten best articles about writing, art, books etc.. that I’ve posted here over the past month. As usual, I’ll also include a couple of honourable mentions too.

This month’s articles turned out fairly well, although there were more articles about writing than about making art (this seems to be something of a trend over the past few months). Plus, this month also saw a comic-format article (linked at the top of the list later in this article) too – seriously, it has been years since I last made one of these 🙂

Likewise, I also ended up reviewing fourteen books this month and, to my delight, also read more sci-fi novels than usual too 🙂

My favourite books from this month’s reviews are probably: “Nova Swing” by M. John Harrison, “The Accidental Time Machine” by Joe Haldeman, “Ghost Dance” by Rebecca Levine, “Blood Music” by Greg Bear, “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” By Jodi Taylor and “The Ice Queen” by Alice Hoffman.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – July 2019:

– ” ‘Books – A Comic’ By C. A. Brown” (Comic)
– “Three Reasons Why Authors Write Books That Are ‘Difficult To Read’
– “Three Things To Do When You Worry That Your Short Story Is ‘Badly Written’
– “Good Stories Always Have ‘Deleted Scenes’ – A Ramble
– “Three Basic Tips For Making Your Thriller Story More Gripping
– “Three Thoughts About How To Use Multiple Story Threads
– “How To Use Misdirection In The Horror Genre – A Ramble
– “Three More Tips About When To Abandon A Short Story Project
– “One Clever Way To Make Minimalist Art Interesting (With An Example)
– “Three Tips For Writing Bleak Fiction (That People Will Actually Want To Read)

Honourable Mentions:

– “Three Beginners’ Tips For Writing Heavy Metal-Themed Stories
– “Awesome Art Can Lurk In Unlikely Places – A Ramble

Top Ten Articles – March 2019

Well, it’s the end of the month and this means that it’s time for me to collect links to my ten favourite articles about writing, making art, making webcomics, reading etc.. that I’ve posted here over the past month. As usual, I’ll include a few honourable mentions too.

All in all, this month was a reasonably good one in terms of articles – even though, like with the previous few months, there were fewer “ordinary” articles due to the fact that I’m posting reviews every 2-4 days. Likewise, I also tried (and failed – I finished it, but the quality was terrible) to write a 1980s-style horror novella at the time I was writing this month’s articles (and also started another novella project which I decided to write at a slower pace).

Talking of reviews, I ended up reviewing 13 novels and 2 “Doom II” WADs this month 🙂 The best novels that I reviewed this month are probably: “Box Nine” & “Word Made Flesh” by Jack O’Connell, “Zombie Apocalypse! Acapulcalypse Now” by Alison Littlewood, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury, “A Second Chance” by Jodi Taylor, “Working For The Devil” by Lilith Saintcrow and “Heartstone” by C. J. Sansom.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – March 2019:

– “When Does Cover Art Really Matter?
– “Two Terrifying Tips For Writing Extreme Horror Fiction
– “Four Thoughts About When (And How) To Abandon A Book You’re Reading
– “Three Random (But Realistic) Tips For Writing 1990s-Style Fiction
– “Three Random Tips For Creating Satirical Comics
– “Two Ways To Save Time Whilst Making Art
– “Two Basic Differences Between Modern And Older Novels
– “Two Basic Things To Do When A Creative Project Fails
– “Two Ways To Make Greyscale Drawings/Paintings Based On Your Colour Photos
– “Three Basic Tips For Writing Book Reviews

Honourable Mentions:

– “The Joy Of….”Middle Brow” Fiction
– “One Quick Way To Rekindle Enthusiasm For Your Story
– “Two Practical Reasons Why English Lit Lessons/Lectures Are Important

Top Ten Articles – January 2019

Well, it’s the end of the month and I thought that I’d do my usual thing of collecting links to my ten favourite articles about writing fiction, making art etc.. that I’ve posted here this month. As usual, I’ll include a couple of honourable mentions too.

All in all, this month’s articles turned out reasonably well. Although I’m still trying to post a book review every 2-4 days, so there are less instructional articles as a result (I don’t know when the next book review will be though, since the book I’m reading at the time of writing [“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson] isn’t exactly a quick read, plus it’s been a while since my last “Doom II” level review too), quite a few of my articles turned out reasonably well.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Top Ten Articles – January 2019:

– “Four Tips For Writing Daily Short Stories
– “Why Traditional Art Skills Still Matter – A Ramble
– “Two Basic Tips For Adding Some Nostalgia To Your Stories
– “Three Tips For Building A “Buffer” Of Stories, Comics, Articles etc.. To Post Online (If You’ve Already Started Posting Stuff)
– “Two Sneaky Ways To Be An Inspired Artist Again
– “Two Better Alternatives To Writing Fan Fiction
– “Four Random Tips For Writing Stories Set In 1990s America
– “Three Clever Hidden Tricks That Writers Use
– “Four Better Alternatives To Rotating First-Person Narration
– “Three Basic Tips For Writing Vampire Stories

Honourable Mentions:

– “Five Things I’ve Learnt From Getting Back Into Reading Regularly
– “Three More Tips For Reading More This Year